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Photos by Derrick Spencer
Training Camp Rewind 2021
A look back at the month of work at State Farm Stadium for Cards Camp
By Zach Galia Sep 03, 2021
Photographs By Derrick Spencer

Training Camp is a time of returns, of excitement, of preparation, and of football … sort of. Practice and on-field work dominate the script when it comes to camp, and the excitement that stems from the beginning of the journey is palpable. That is until we come to realize that we are still over a month away from an actual, regular-season football game (47 days, but who's counting?) Here is a look back at the month of work from 2021 Training Camp.

J.J. Watt, Kyler Murray and A.J. Green arrive for 2021 training camp

Familiar and new faces made their way to State Farm Stadium in Glendale to get their hotel rooms settled for the month of work ahead. Fans couldn't wait to catch a glimpse of the new guys (J.J. Watt, A.J. Green, James Conner among them) as well as their returning favorites (Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, Chandler Jones). The conditioning test was the "official start" of camp, but the on-field work would get started soon after.


The third training camp for QB Kyler Murray arrived with great expectations. Murray already has a Rookie of the Year award and Pro Bowl nomination under his belt, but he's hungry for something more. "I'm not trying to be average. I'm always striving to be perfect," Murray said.


New WR A.J. Green comes to his first camp in Arizona in a uniquely new position, one that he has exactly zero experience with -- being Wide Receiver No. 2. In his 10 years in Cincinnati, Green dominated the offensive game-plan as the go-to receiver for several quarterbacks. In his first season in the Valley, and for the first time in his career, he has an elite, game-changing running mate, WR DeAndre Hopkins. "You got Hop on one side, you got me on the other side, you got Kirk working the middle. It creates a lot of matchups, and that's why I picked this place." Green has made the most of his short time here, making a seemingly daily impact at camp.

Isaiah Simmons at camp 2021
Zaven Collins at camp 2021

Back-to-back first-round picks at the inside linebacker position brought two monsters to the middle of the Cardinals defense. Isaiah Simmons (6'4", 238 lbs.) and Zaven Collins (6'4", 260 lbs.) have the physical make-up to stop anything an offense can throw at them. The two giant, athletic, speedy "trees" (as Steve Keim perfectly described them) are tasked with rebuilding the center of the defense, and that starts with getting to know each other on a personal level. "I told him, we can be all that and more if we want to," Simmons said. "It depends on how much work we want to put in and how much we want to buy in to be what we want to be." As the uncle of a famous web-slinging hero once said, "With great power, comes great responsibility."

Markus Golden, Chandler Jones and Devon Kennard at camp 2021

The feeling of déjà vu normally sets in around the second week of camp, with the on-field work taking on a familiar shape each day. However, with training camp being anything but normal in 2020, the familiarity was welcomed in 2021.


New number, who dis? Budda Baker was one of a few players who chose to change their number entering this season when the league loosened the rules surrounding which numbers could be worn by which position groups. Baker landed on a familiar number to Allen Iverson fans everywhere. "I can have my own legacy in a sense," Baker said. "My own legacy, my own number."


Then came the moment we've all been waiting a very long time for -- a (preseason) football game at State Farm Stadium with the Red Sea in attendance. While Kyler Murray, Chandler Jones and DeAndre Hopkins weren't in uniform, some of the newest faces on the roster were dressed to impress. Marco Wilson showed out early with a couple of pass breakups and made the most of his opportunity. Eno Benjamin, a familiar face to Sun Devils' fans, also found the end zone for the first time in a Cardinals uniform. While a preseason victory is not normally a time to celebrate, there was a lot to smile about.


Second-round pick Rondale Moore has made himself at home in the Valley, and even purchased his mother a home in his Ohio hometown. Moore has impressed with his explosive speed and aggressive work ethic at camp, as he looks to make a name for himself in the NFL.


No addition this offseason received the type of fanfare that the signing of three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt received, and for good reason. Due to hamstring injury, his on-field debut at camp was slightly delayed. "As an athlete you always have a chip on your shoulder," Watt said. "It doesn't matter how you did, doesn't matter how well you performed, doesn't matter what you do, because you're always going to have a chip on your shoulder and that's what drives you." That chip (and his smile) was on full display when he returned to camp, and his excitement was felt throughout the stadium. "You're like a dog chasing a tennis ball. Wherever it bounces, you want to get it, you are excited to be out there."


The second go-around of preseason football at State Farm Stadium didn't bring quite as much joy as the first edition, but there were bright moments from those looking to elevate their game heading into the regular season. Byron Murphy's toe-tap interception of Patrick Mahomes is the first moment that jumps off the page. "I try to come in every day and work. As a corner, you have to think you're the best," Murphy said. While the work is far from over for the entire team, playing another preseason game in front of the Red Sea was something to enjoy.

Wrap up huddle camp 2021

Every year, training camp brings a new excitement to the Valley as the Red Sea ponders the possibilities for the upcoming season. Kyler Murray, Budda Baker, Chandler Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and D.J. Humphries have set a foundation with which to build, the additions of J.J. Watt, Rodney Hudson, A.J. Green, James Conner and company came during free agency, and with the exciting new faces arriving through the NFL draft, something special is brewing in the Valley.

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