Cardinals running back T.J. Logan (middle) does conditioning work with his teammates.
Every owner of a furry, four-legged friend knows the cycle. The sad eyes upon departure, the hero's welcome upon return.
T.J. Logan may not be a canine, but the Cardinals running back felt the emotion of one during the team's road affairs in 2017.
"When they used to go to games, sometimes I'd stay back, and those were lonely times," Logan said. "Those are the times you have to have a great family, and I do. My mom would talk to me all the time. But I would root for them boys, and when they got back, I was like a dog. I was like, 'What's up? I'm so happy to see y'all.'"
The Cardinals had several rookies show promise last season, but Logan was the first. The fifth-round pick shined in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys, returning a pair of kickoffs for 71 yards while looking comfortable as a punt returner despite never doing it in college.
But late in that preseason opener, Logan dislocated his wrist on a rushing attempt, and a slow healing process kept him out for the season. While he was around the facility all year, he wasn't in on the day-to-day game-planning with his teammates.
"It's been a long ride," Logan said.
After eight months on the periphery, Logan is ready to be unleashed. While he said there are still some mobility gains to be had with the wrist, he is participating fully in the offseason training program.
"As far as strength, it's fine," Logan said. "I've been hitting 330-pound bags. I'm sure I'm not going to be hitting a lot of 300-pound guys, so it's been fine. I'm trying to get that, and catch some balls off the JUGS machine, which has been going good."
The Cardinals have a superstar at running back in David Johnson, and Logan understands only complementary roles will be available at the position provided Johnson is healthy. But there is a path for touches if he can lock down the returner role and push for specialized packages on offense.
The Cardinals released running back Adrian Peterson this offseason, while Kerwynn Williams is currently a free agent. The other running backs currently on the roster are Elijhaa Penny, D.J. Foster, Bronson Hill and Darius Victor.
Johnson said he became close with Logan last season as they both rehabilitated the same injury, and is excited to see what he can do when healthy again.
"He showed some great flashes last year," Johnson said. "He's a fast guy. I didn't realize it until I was running next to him when we were hurt last year. He showed flashes in that Cowboys game, with that kick return and at running back. He's definitely going to be utilized a lot, I feel."
Logan couldn't have asked for a more promising start in 2017, excelling in the first game he played as a professional, even if it was preseason.
"I feel like anybody coming out of college, that's the first thing, like, 'Will I be successful in the NFL?'" Logan said. "So just getting out there and getting a little bit of game experience was good for me."
It ended much quicker than expected, but Logan is ready for a new beginning. He has sprawled words of encouragement on his bathroom mirror, reminding him that 2018 is his time to shine.
"I feel like people are definitely excited, but they don't have a clear picture until I can put some games together," Logan said. "I don't have a problem with that, because the opponent doesn't know what I can do either. I'm just ready to get out there however I can to help the team and just make some plays."