The Cardinals' wide receiving corps looks on as the team goes through a night practice Monday night.
For the first time since training camp, the Cardinals practiced under the lights.
But Monday night's practice wasn't to appease the fans or to find relief from triple-digit temperatures. It was to prepare and recover.
The Cardinals play at St. Louis on Thursday in their first night game of the season. Practicing at dusk provided the Cardinals with a few more hours to rest their bodies during the short week and it also gave them a chance to experience the routine leading up to a night game after going almost two months of midday or early afternoon practices.
"Usually at night time we're relaxing, kicked back," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "It's hard to get your body used to that. So during practice today it kind of helps us a little bit mentally and physically and our bodies adjusted to our time."
Kickoff against the Rams is at 5:20 p.m. Arizona time, and with only about a day in St. Louis leading up to the game, the two-hour time change isn't expected to impact the players' body clocks. But a later practice caused Quentin Groves to shuffle his schedule.
"You have to push your massages back, you have to push your chiropractor back, things like that," the linebacker said. "It gets you in a different mindset."
Typical Mondays for the Cardinals don't include practice and are usually full of meetings and recovery time. From the time they arrived at the training facility Monday, game planning was in full effect.
Without as much preparation time, the Cardinals have to rely on studying game film more than in normal weeks, Campbell said. But the Cardinals treated Monday like a Wednesday, center Lyle Sendlein said, the day the game plan is usually implemented.
"We did all of our installs and really focused on this week rather than what happened last week. That was gone in our minds the second the game ended," he said. "That's how quick the turnaround is when you play on Thursday.
"I think that's something we didn't do last time."
"Last time" was when the Cardinals last played on a Thursday night, in 2008 when they lost at Philadelphia on Thanksgiving. Only a handful of players remain from that squad, but they haven't forgotten that 48-20 loss.
"I hope we do a better job this time," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It didn't go so well for us last time on Thursday night. I've played in a few of those games over the years and we've got a schedule that we feel pretty good about. I think the challenge for us is working on things we need to improve on this week, cleaning up some of our technique errors, cleaning up some of our detail things, as well as making sure that we give our players enough rest. It's a fine line between doing enough to get prepared and also making sure you give them enough rest, because the game will be on us fast."
But not everyone was a fan of the night practice.
"I don't like practicing in the dark," receiver Andre Roberts said. "It's not what we're used to. It doesn't make too much of a difference but I'd rather practice in daytime in the sunshine and knock it out earlier.
"I don't know it would necessarily help because when it's game time, it's game time. It doesn't matter if it's a night game or day game."