The pads were back on Thursday at camp for the Cardinals, and Markus Golden brought the attitude with it. The outside linebacker, who always slips easily into that mode – his name is "Junk," for "Junkyard Dog," after all – was set in motion earlier when he tangled with some of the tight ends during some one-on-one work.
But this was later on, when the offense was faced with a need-a-touchdown-at-your-own-35-with-50-seconds-left-and-no-timeouts situation.
The offense, I thought, had looked pretty good in practice up until that point. But with the full officials crew on hand as usual prior to the Red & White Practice, there were issues, starting with a first-down penalty (I believe it was illegal formation.) The next play, Golden bullrushed tackle Kelvin Beachum, knocking him back for what was a "sack." Golden was loud now, bellowing at the defensive sideline. Pressure forced an incompletion on second down.
There was another penalty – again, I think it was illegal formation, and Beachum yelled at the young receivers to make sure they were in the right spot. With not much time left, KeeSean Johnson got behind the coverage down the sideline and Kyler Murray hit him for a deep pass – but for some reason, Johnson didn't step out and time expired.
Golden came to the sideline, both satisfied yet heated, yelling (at me to note) basically that in the moment, the offense was the enemy. The defense did its job, and Golden was lathered up. It was the closest it has felt to game action thus far in camp.
-- The second units went about the same. There were two offensive penalties (an illegal formation and a hold) on the first two plays, and a Hail Mary at the end never happened after a "sack" by Jordan Hicks.
-- If that sounds like a lot of penalties, it was. The Cardinals need to get those out before real games start.
"We want them to call it tight," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "That was the instructions. We have three preseason games. We have to work through all those kinks but (penalties) definitely were an Achilles Heel last year for us. That's been a heavy emphasis and we'll coach off that today."
-- DeAndre Hopkins, given a vet day, came over to verbally spar with the injured J.J. Watt after the first unit battle. Chandler Jones also got a vet day, but there were plenty of others sitting because of unknown injury issues. Wide receivers A.J. Green and Antoine Wesley, offensive linemen Brian Winters and Justin Murray, and defensive lineman Jordan Phillips remain sidelined.
-- Center Rodney Hudson and wide receiver Rondale Moore also left practice early, although Kingsbury said Moore's issue was "precautionary."
-- The Cardinals continue to practice various packages, but Hicks seems to be on the field more often than not right now. We will see how it plays out, but when he mentioned in his presser that perhaps the best defense will include all three of he, Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons, well, maybe that's what will happen.
-- Yes, a lot of receivers are out right now, so the reps are available, but Andy Isabella had his best day of camp Thursday. KeeSean Johnson was more up and down; an early pass that looked catchable bounced off his hands and turned into a Jalen Thompson interception.
-- Along the lines of the offense looking good early, Kyler looked sharp to me. He got Isabella on a bomb, hit wide receiver Andre Baccellia with a nice dart down the seam, and his work in the middle of the field feels like it's going a little bit better.