The Cardinals hold the first of two night practices at Coconino High School Wednesday with a mountain in the background.
FLAGSTAFF – Yes, Cardinals' training camp is more intense.
"I honestly think it is," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said.
The team has only been practicing for five days, and the length of camp tends to dull the senses as it goes. But there is little question when the pads have gone on passion has risen, and it was on display again Wednesday night at Coconino High School.
"I think everyone knows the challenge we have this season," Dockett said. "We can't make mistakes and we have to get better. The best part about today was people were mad if they made a mistake. That's what you want. People are accountable."
There was again a scuffle, with tackle Tom Pestock and linebacker Cody Brown going to the ground during one-on-one pass rush drills. Brown apparently heeded the advice of teammate Joey Porter, who had screamed at Brown the other day when Brown didn't get back at tight end Stephen Spach for grabbing his facemask. This time, when Pestock did it, Brown didn't let it go.
At the end of the night, there were no fights, but the emotion didn't lessen when the first-string defense dominated three plays against the first-string offense in the team's live goal-line drill. The defense got a sack, a fumble recovery and then linebackers Paris Lenon and Clark Haggans stoned running back Tim Hightower short of a touchdown.
The defense celebrated and words were exchanged between the offense and defense – although again coach Ken Whisenhunt calmed it all down with the end-of-practice huddle.
"There have been a couple UFC fights, tryouts on the field," Haggans said. "Basically it is everyone competing. Tempers flare, and it's a violent game. You get caught up in it a little bit. We're just getting ready."
Hightower admitted "it's not good to end on that kind of note," although the two sides will match up again at Saturday's Red-White practice. It's probably safe to say the intensity isn't going to diminish.
"In practice, unfortunately both sides can't win every down," Dockett said. "Somebody's got to lose."
The Cardinals, who already have tight ends Anthony Becht (back) and Jim Dray (quad) sitting out, suffered a scare Wednesday night when Ben Patrick went down after making a catch on the FieldTurf. Patrick rolled around in pain holding his left knee, but eventually got off the field with help.
The Cards said Patrick suffered a sprain and has an MRI scheduled. The team hopes to know more Thursday.
WHO IS FOURTH?
The Cardinals' quest to find a fourth receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet should get very interesting in the preseason.
Third-round pick Andre Roberts has the draft status to have a shot and he has bounced back with two solid days after a rough start to the week. Holdover Onrea Jones was the standout over the offseason. Undrafted rookie Stephen Williams, at 6-foot-5, has shown enough impressive flashes to make people wonder why he wasn't drafted.
"It's hard to judge until we get into a game," Whisenhunt said.
Local Darren Mougey is also in the mix, Whisenhunt added, although Mougey's background – he was a quarterback until midway through college – hampers him.
"He just has a further way to go because he just doesn't have a lot of experience at the position," Whisenhunt said. "(But) there are a lot of things you like about him, with the way he catches the ball, good speed, big guy."
BACKPACK DRIVE AT CAMP
Fans coming to Flagstaff are asked to take part in the Albertson's Backpack Drive, an effort to get new or gently used backpacks for needy kids through the Hope Endures program. Anyone donating a backpack will receive an exclusive Cardinals/Albertson's backpack in exchange.
Now through Aug. 14, fans can turn in the donated backpacks at the camp's Kids Zone for a coupon redeemable at Albertson's.
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