Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson excitedly leaves the field for the last time in training camp.
As Tony Jefferson walked off the field after practice on Friday, he gave handshakes and high-fives to members of the media, then yelled "Good job" to running back David Johnson.
The safety encapsulated the feeling of the Cardinals players, who were more than happy to wrap up a month of training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals will head to Houston for a game against the Texans on Sunday, and when they return, the practices will be relocated to their Tempe training facility and they will return to their homes following a long hotel stay.
"It's really nice to wrap it up and get ready for the actual season to start," Johnson said.
Coach Bruce Arians keeps his team on location longer than most NFL teams, and said it's an ideal place to get the work in before the season begins.
"Great meting rookie space, locker room space, weight room space -- this is a fantastic site to have training camp," Arians said. "To practice in our stadium and get used to it, especially for young players, so when they come in here it's not an extra excitement level because we're in the stadium."
While there is a repetitive feeling to the practices, quarterback Carson Palmer said that didn't equate to the team remaining stagnant.
"We've consistently gotten better as camp has gone along and it's not easy to do," Palmer said. "It can get very boring and monotonous and you are running a curl flat over and over and over again, things guys have been doing since junior high. But we have gotten better. The same mental errors haven't occurred twice."
PUP GUYS, NKEMDICHE EXPECTED TO PLAY AGAINST TEXANS
Arians said the three players who came off the physically unable to perform list this week – safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback Justin Bethel and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker – could see as many as 12 snaps in Houston.
Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (ankle) is expected to make his NFL debut and play "a bunch," Arians said. "He's got a lot of room to make up."
Linebacker Shaq Riddick (oblique), cornerback Alan Ball (unknown), cornerback Elie Bouka (hamstring) and quarterback Jake Coker (knee) won't travel to Houston and will miss the game. Center Taylor Boggs (calf) is questionable.
The Cardinals left training camp without losing a key player for the first time in Arians' tenure – guard Jonathan Cooper, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and nose tackle Corey Peters were lost for the season in consecutive years – but he isn't counting his blessings yet since the preseason has two games remaining.
"Why are you trying to jinx us?" Arians said. "We ain't done yet. Come on, bro. We're as healthy as we've been in three years, and that's a scary thing because we've got a game coming up."
TONER LEARNING ON THE FLY
Cornerback Brandon Williams isn't the only draft pick trying to quickly learn a new position as the regular season approaches. Offensive lineman Cole Toner played tackle at Harvard but has practiced exclusively at guard during camp.
"It's a new thing, but it's O-line play," the fifth-round pick said. "You've got to kind of see the offense more widespread than at tackle. At tackle, you've got to know what's going on, but you've got to know what's going on on your side more than anything. At guard you have to see the whole picture."
Toner is aiming to make the team as a versatile backup. He has mostly been running with the third team in practice, but saw time with the starters recently due to injuries, and Arians was impressed.
Even though Toner is a draft pick, he must prove himself with the cutdowns looming. The Cardinals must reduce their roster to 75 players by Tuesday and 53 after the fourth preseason game. Arians said 20 players are battling for about eight roster spots.
"Sure, there always is (anxiety)," Toner said. "I'm taking nothing for granted entering this league and being on a really good team with a lot of good players. You just never know. … But I think I'm definitely good enough to play on the team."