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'Unusual' Training Camp Begins For Cardinals

Practices begin Wednesday as team starts to prep for 2020 regular season

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins takes part in a walkthrough at State Farm Stadium.
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins takes part in a walkthrough at State Farm Stadium.

Masks, not just facemasks, will be part of training camp this year, but at least the Cardinals are out at State Farm Stadium for their annual preparation for the regular season.

It's later than usual. There won't be any preseason games to break it up. But it's camp.

"Unusual year – start to the year – but I think everyone's ready to go," quarterback Kyler Murray said. "(I'm) excited to get back on the field with the guys and start this thing up fast and finish fast. You feel me? That's the only way to do it."

Closed to the public because of the coronavirus, the Cardinals have started with a continuation of the conditioning work and walkthroughs. The initial practices start Wednesday, with the first batch under the same rules governed by offseason organized team activities.

The Cardinals are scheduled to open the season Sept. 13 in San Francisco.

The long lead-up to actual practices was crucial for players to prepare their bodies after a lost offseason. But that cuts down on the time the coaches will have to figure out who they want on their final roster, and how each fit into a depth chart.

The Cards only had one player -- projected starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert -- opt out of the season because of COVID-19. They are one of the few teams to have yet to use the reserve/COVID-19 (for players who have either tested positive or were around someone that did.)

Most teams are expected to have more scrimmage-type work than normal because of the lost preseason games. There is little question veterans will have an advantage over rookies, and undrafted players will have a more difficult time proving themselves.

"Evaluation-wise I think you can take a lot of the mental stuff we've talked about," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "We're ramping up physically for training camp but mentally training camp started (last week) when we got on the field for those mental reps. How they transition to the field with what they learned in the classroom, that does go a long way, but physically we won't get much until (Wednesday) when we start getting them on the field and start moving them around."

At least the Cardinals have finally had the chance to have their new players – guys like wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, free-agent defensive upgrades Jordan Phillips, De'Vonde Campbell and Devon Kennard, and first-round pick Isaiah Simmons – to integrate with the team. Coaches have finally had a chance to direct their units through some plays, albeit not at full speed.

The true sorting through the roster decisions hasn't really begun yet. Like everything else about 2020, that's on its own unique timeline.

"Right now taking a holistic approach to try and inch it along and maximize each day we have as a team," Kingsbury said. "It's such a unique season and training camp that that's kind of my thought.

"Once we put the pads on down the road … we'll be able to say, 'All right, these are the battles.' "

Images of the team's first walkthrough of training camp at State Farm Stadium on Sunday, presented by Hyundai.