The champagne sat on ice in Danville, Illinois as Trent Sherfield's family waited for the fateful call.
When his mother Tedrone picked up the phone, the verdict was in: It was time to pop the corks.
Despite long initial odds, Sherfield, the undrafted rookie wide receiver out of Vanderbilt, made the Cardinals' 53-man roster on Saturday, setting off a celebration in his Midwest hometown.
"They were really excited because you have ups and downs going through camp, and you kind of don't know where you're at – if you're going to make the team or wherever you're going to be," Sherfield said. "Just sharing those ups and downs with them, they felt stressed, too. They thought they were in my seat. They thought they were trying to make the team. When I told them, they were really excited and ecstatic for me."
Sherfield was one of five undrafted rookies who initially made the 53-man roster. Safety A.J. Howard was subsequently waived/injured, but cornerback Deatrick Nichols and linebackers Zeke Turner and Dennis Gardeck remain. Coach Steve Wilks said it was rewarding to let the players know they made it.
"It's hard to get into this fence, into this circle," Wilks said. "It's even harder to stay, so a lot of those guys were very appreciative. Hard work pays off, and as I've told them, everybody deserved and earned the right to be here. We just don't create this 53-(man roster) off of choice and just random. Those guys worked their butts off."
Gardeck made the Cardinals after three college seasons at West Virginia State and one at Sioux Falls. He convinced himself the jump from lower-level college football to the NFL was not impossible.
"You have to trick yourself into believing it, just telling yourself it's possible," Gardeck said. "People have come from Division II to play in the NFL. People have gone undrafted and played in the NFL. I'm not giving myself any excuse of, 'I'm Division II so it's going to take me longer to catch up.' No. I'm here. Step up and make the plays."
While Gardeck is on the team, he understands the roster spot is tenuous.
"It's such a day-by-day situation right now, and it will be week-by-week for the years to come," Gardeck said. "I don't ever want to take my foot off the gas. I don't know if I'll ever get that 'Ahh, I've arrived' moment. It keeps me working."
GRESHAM RETURNS TO PRACTICE
Tight end Jermaine Gresham returned to practice for the first time since tearing his Achilles in last year's regular season finale. Defensive end Markus Golden (knee) was working on the side with trainers during the open portion of practice.
Both players were activated from the physically unable to perform list on Saturday. It's unknown if either will be available for Sunday's opener against Washington.
"You look at practice today, and Jermaine looked well," Wilks said. "He was running around and catching the ball. I don't want to try and throw him out there too soon, him or Markus, to have a setback. But I think we're moving in the right direction. So, it's close."
Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle Olsen Pierre and running back T.J. Logan were also working on the side at the start of practice. Defensive tackle Corey Peters returned to work. The first injury report will be unveiled on Wednesday.
CARDINALS ROUND OUT PRACTICE SQUAD
The Cardinals filled out their practice squad on Monday by signing linebacker B.J. Bello, safety Demetrious Cox and cornerback Chris Jones.
Bello, an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State in 2017, played in all 16 games with the Browns last season. Cox, an undrafted free agent from Michigan State in 2017, played in four games last season for the Panthers before landing on injured reserve. Jones signed with the Lions in May after going undrafted out of Nebraska.
The others on the practice squad are running back Elijhaa Penny, wide receiver Jalen Tolliver, quarterback Charles Kanoff, defensive end Alec James, offensive lineman Will House, defensive tackle Pasoni Tasini and tight end Andrew Vollert.
Images of the players who made the team after Saturday's cuts