Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, here snagging a one-handed catch in Thursday's practice, is one of the few Cardinals with his job set in stone.
While the Cardinals' playoff hopes were extinguished in the final regular season week of 2013, it did not take long for optimism to seep in as the calendar flipped forward.
The team won seven of nine games down the stretch including the memorable road upset of Seattle. The Cardinals knew the Super Bowl would be held at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2015, and they spoke often about becoming the first host team to play in it.
But as the season draws closer, that talk has evaporated. While the goal has not changed, for many of the players,
there are more pressing matters.
"Now's the time to be worried about yourself," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "Make this 53-man roster and improve your game individually. I think as we get closer to the season and we get closer to that Monday night opener and going to New York, that's when you start realizing and start thinking about that … but right now, guys are fighting for their lives."
Rare are the players like Palmer, cornerback Patrick Peterson or wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who are entrenched in the starting lineup, as the majority are battling to either make the team or move up the depth chart.
Roster cuts will pare down the current 88-man roster to 53 by Aug. 30, and several spots are still up in the air. When wide receiver Teddy Williams signed with the Cardinals in midseason last year, he was intent on carving out a role and helping the team make a playoff push.
He has since moved to cornerback, where he is on the bubble of making the team. A Super Bowl run would be unforgettable, but his mentality has changed, as Williams said it's important to stay focused and not worry about the future.
"If you look too far ahead, you might not be around to even experience it," Williams said.
NEWCOMERS UNDERSTAND WAITING GAME
The Cardinals have plucked several veterans from the free agency pool late in the offseason and into training camp. Defensive linemen Isaac Sopoaga and Ryan McBean were the most recent, joining running back Jalen Parmele, tackle Max Starks, linebacker Desmond Bishop, linebacker Ernie Sims and others.
It can be a tough state of limbo for the proven players, who work out daily to keep in shape and wait for a call that can come at a moment's notice or not at all. Parmele, who was signed after participating in a tryout in late May, said the uncertainty becomes easier after going through it multiple times.
"You never know what's going to happen," Parmele said. "Back in 2011, even though I wasn't on a team, I had like eight or nine workouts. That's a situation right there where you've always got to be ready, because you don't know what's going to happen. You stay in shape and stay positive."
As Bishop waited for the phone to ring this offseason – he was signed by the Cardinals one week ago—he said he focused on the rehabilitation from his season-ending ACL injury a year ago and didn't sweat about getting picked up.
"I've been in the game awhile," Bishop said. "I understand how everything works. It was out of my control, and anything that's out of my control I really don't fret over too much."
NIKLAS GETS CAST OFF
Tight end Troy Niklas recently had the cast removed from the right hand he broke during OTAs. He had been practicing throughout training camp with it, which had encumbered his ability to catch and block effectively.
Wide receiver Michael Floyd returned to practice the past two days after missing the first two preseason games with a groin injury, and seems to be on track to play Sunday night against the Bengals.
"Practice is one thing, but playing in a game and getting a little exposure out there is what you really need," Floyd said.
Guard Jonathan Cooper (leg), linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral) and Starks (ankle) missed practice Thursday.
SELLOUT MEANS BENGALS GAME ON LOCAL TV
The Cardinals announced their 85th consecutive sellout for Sunday's game against the Bengals. It will be televised on "Sunday Night Football" on NBC.