That felt like a training camp practice.
Fans in the stands, many constantly calling out to Chandler Jones in particular -- the linebacker often returning a smile or a wave throughout Friday's workout -- and it was the first practice that felt at least a little pre-pandemic. It feels even moreso now, with my ability to write some things beyond the stretching, because with fans in the building we have a lot more leeway on what to report.
I mean, where else can you read that veteran A.J. Green gave everyone a brief scare during 11-on-11 when he slowly walked into the back of the end zone and off the field, doubled over in obvious distress, until he was tended to by athletic trainers Tom Reed and Jeff Herndon. But then from across the field I was able to see a smile come from Green's face as he slowly got up and jogged immediately back into the next play, scoring on a touchdown pass from Kyler Murray (pictured.) And you realized Green took a blow to a place men would prefer not to be hit, and all was -- after those first few moments -- just fine.
The Cardinals aren't in full pads yet, but with the fans in the stands, there was some juice. A few things of note:
-- Backup quarterback Colt McCoy has a stronger arm than I expected. And he threw a seed to rookie Rondale Moore in a very tight window for one completion. He'll be a good guy to be in the No. 2 role.
-- Moore has looked good in camp so far, and had more noticeable plays Friday. With so many receivers out because of Covid protocols, the guys available are getting more work, but Moore is making the best of his time.
-- There was a play where ultimately the pass over the middle was dropped by the receiver, but Murray stepped up right into the pocket and showed good patience hanging in before throwing a nice ball. It's an area within which he needs to improve, but it was a good sign.
-- Vance Joseph talked all offseason about how Byron Murphy was the Cardinals' top cornerback. He's looked like it, making some nice plays Friday.
-- When the situational offense-defense came up -- 30 seconds on the clock, the offense at the plus-35, two timeouts -- one early play had the pass rush getting inside and Murray scooting up the middle at high speed for a scramble near the 10. "Coach" J.J. Watt, watching behind the play, threw his arms up wanting to know why a whistle didn't blow for a "sack." (Watt was right, it would've been a sack.)
-- Jones, as Kliff Kingsbury said the other day, is in great shape. He even seems jovial, as Kingsbury noted. He definitely seems determined to dominate. That'll certainly help his contract push, but regardless, it's clear he's rebounded well from his injury. It was also funny, when the period came up for the 30-second, plus-35 sequence, to have Jones declare "J.J. Watt mode activated." Yes, he did it within earshot of his new teammate.