The Cardinals' and Suns' coach/GM tandems talk before Thursday's practice. From left, Suns coach Earl Watson, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, Suns GM Ryan McDonough, Cardinals GM Steve Keim.
Tony Jefferson noticed right away.
"Hey," the safety said as he warmed up prior to Thursday's practice. "The Suns are here."
Indeed, many from the local NBA team watched their NFL counterpart in the Cardinals' final open practice of
training camp – Friday's workout is closed to the public – before throwing a few passes afterward and mingling with some of the Cardinals.
Players Devin Booker, Tyson Chandler, Tyler Ulis, Marquese Chriss and Alan Williams, along with owner Robert Sarver, GM Ryan McDonough and coach Earl Watson were among the Suns' contingent. Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, GM Steve Keim and scout Adrian Wilson spoke to the group as practice began.
When practice ended, Larry Fitzgerald and Calais Campbell were among those who said hello. Jefferson, who has been a Suns fan since he was a young child living in San Diego, did not.
But Jefferson said he was a little nervous and passed on the opportunity.
"I love the Suns," Jefferson said. "Those are my guys right there.
"I always wanted to be a basketball player."
JOHN BROWN RETURNS TO PRACTICE
Wide receiver John Brown, who was cleared through the concussion protocol earlier this week but then missed
practice Wednesday after suffering a headache, returned to practice Thursday.
Arians said the Cardinals will continue to be smart with Brown, who wore the yellow non-contact jersey again and left midway through practice.
Defensive tackle Ed Stinson (core muscle) was back in individual drills. Linebackers Shaq Riddick (oblique) and Alex Okafor (biceps) and cornerback Elie Bouka (hamstring) remain out, although Arians said Okafor is "very close" to returning.
Arians said before practice he would hold wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee) out again, but Fitzgerald returned to work on a limited basis. Also returning on a limited basis was offensive lineman Earl Watford (knee).
NO WATT IS NO PROBLEM FOR PALMER
Quarterback Carson Palmer will play his longest stretch of the preseason Sunday in Houston. But while Arians said that he was "sorry" star Texans defensive tackle J.J. Watt (back) won't play in the game, Palmer had a different reaction.
"I was watching their Indy game (from 2015) and he was all over the place," Palmer said. "When I watched that game, I was not that sorry."
LONG SNAPPER COMPETITION REMAINS
Arians said there hasn't been much separation between rookie long snappers Kam Canaday and Daniel Dillion in their quest to replace the retired Mike Leach.
"Both have plusses and minuses," Arians said. "I'm anxious to see them both on the road (in Houston)."
Leach had attended a couple of practices San Diego week to give some hands-on tutelage to the rookies, but Arians smiled when asked if he had asked Leach to come back.
"I know I'd be talking to the wind," Arians said.