Defensive backs Rashad Johnson (left) and Jerraud Powers take part in Friday's conditioning test.
Bruce Arians' coaching seat couldn't be steadier after engineering a five-game improvement in his first year with the Cardinals in 2013. Likewise, there are players on the team who figure to be core pieces for seasons to come.
However, as the Cardinals kicked off training camp with their conditioning test at University of Phoenix Stadium on Friday afternoon, Arians was clear that it shouldn't just be the 30-something veterans who feel a sense of urgency as the countdown to the 2014 season begins.
While wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, linebacker John Abraham and defensive tackle Darnell
Dockett are on the backside of their careers, the same may be true for players still in their 20s.
"Every season should (have urgency), because every one can be your last, as a coach and a player," Arians said. "I can testify to that. There are windows for guys, and you want to put a ring on their finger."
Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is one of the long-tenured veterans, now entering his 11th season with the Cardinals. He made the Super Bowl with the team in 2009, but does not have a title.
Dockett fully understands the importance of camp and how it will affect the regular season. He
said two or three bad practices now could keep the Cardinals out of the playoffs in January.
It wasn't a surprise to him to see good energy on the first day. The real test comes a couple weeks from now.
"The first five days I'm not really worried about," Dockett said. "I'm worried about guys on Day 12, Day 13, when you have to really find out what you've got left in the tank. When those days come, I'm going to remind guys what it felt like to miss the playoffs by one game."
The full 90-man roster – save for linebacker John Abraham, excused for personal reasons -- was back together for the first time since minicamp, and Arians was pleased with the condition of the players. Defensive tackle Dan Williams, who at 314 pounds is built for interior line battles and not long sprints, received a specific mention for his performance.
"I thought Dan Williams was as sexy in the run test as he's ever looked," Arians said.
Before the test, the players settled into the hotel that will be their home for nearly a month. The start of a new season always brings forth optimism, but even moreso for a team which won seven of its final nine games.
"It's like a kid waiting on Christmas day," running back Andre Ellington said. "We're all excited to get back on the field and get this thing going."
The Cardinals will hold their first of 18 open training camp practices on Saturday, and pads will go on Monday. Arians said he has "great confidence and optimism" at this juncture, but will get a better gauge once the hitting commences.
"I don't want to get too excited," Arians said. "We're still in shorts."
Images from the run test on the first day of Cardinals' training camp