Kliff Kingsbury was in his seat reading a book on the flight to New Orleans on Friday when he got a tap on the shoulder.
The game had been canceled, he was told, and the flight would be doing a U-turn and going back to Arizona.
Kingsbury knew it was the right decision, with everything the city was facing with incoming Hurricane Ida. But it was disappointing too, knowing there was still a little something the team wanted to see out of certain players – QB Chris Streveler was set to play the whole game, for instance – as they pare down to the final roster.
"Tough break for the young guys, obviously, particularly for the first- and second-year players," Kingsbury said. "The second-year players didn't have a preseason last year and to lose a game this year was a tough break. You hate that for them. A lot of guys were going to get a lot of reps, not just to make this team but to make teams around the league."
Linebacker Markus Golden said he's always fast asleep as soon as a flight takes off, and he woke up when the cancellation was announced over the PA system on the plane. The change meant the team didn't get a game Saturday, but the Cardinals turned it into a walkthrough Sunday before going into a "mock" week of game practice starting Monday.
As for the roster decisions that had to be made without that final preseason game, "we had a good amount of data on the guys to make the right decisions," Kingsbury said.
PHILLIPS OFF COVID LIST; DENNARD TO IR
Defensive lineman Jordan Phillips was officially removed from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, and Kingsbury said Phillips – who missed almost all of training camp with an undisclosed injury – would return to practice as soon as he came off the list.
The Cardinals also took one veteran out of cornerback room Monday by placing Darqueze Dennard on injured reserve, again with an undisclosed aliment. Because Dennard was never on the 53-man roster, he cannot come back from IR and his season is over.
The Cardinals still are waiting for cornerback Robert Alford and guard Justin Pugh to come off the Covid list. Kingsbury said they were in the "final stages" before returning.
The Cardinals also waived linebacker Terrance Smith with an injury settlement.
CHANDLER JONES BACK AT PRACTICE
Linebacker Chandler Jones was back at practice Monday for the first time in a couple of weeks after a "minor" injury issue. Kingsbury said the hope is that the team's top pass rusher will be fresh and ready for the regular season.
Jones has yet to speak to the media since training camp began, but Kingsbury said despite Jones' desire for a contract extension, the veteran's persona has not soured.
"He definitely has a chip on his shoulder, no doubt," Kingsbury said. "But he is who he is and is true to himself. He can hide the type of enthusiasm and joy he has day in and day out."
HUMPHRIES' TOP 100 THOUGHTS
D.J. Humphries was asked about the No. 8 ranking of teammate DeAndre Hopkins in the NFL Network's Top 100 list, and the offensive tackle used it as a jumping-off point to have a faux rant and some fun about the subject.
"I'll be honest, I didn't watch it at all, because I didn't get in," Humphries said. "Once I saw J.J. (Watt) at 66, I was like, 'Alright. Maybe I'll be 50, squeak in there somehow.' "
Humphries said Hopkins should actually be top 3 in the league, biased because he was a Hopkins fan forever, even before Hopkins played for the Cardinals.
"I think this (expletive) is made up. I haven't voted for this (expletive) once," Humphries said with a smile that built into a laugh as he spoke. "At this point, I want to talk to somebody … I don't know who they send these lists to, but I haven't gotten one. Tell them to put that in their pipe and smoke it."