GLENDALE, AZ - After three days in camp, the Arizona Cardinals finally put the pads on. Something Coach Bruce Arians has been anxiously waiting for.
"I'm tired of playing soccer. Now, soccer's a great game, but we need to put the pads on in our sport," Arians said.
Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., the University of Phoenix stadium sounded more like game day than it has in months. When the pads go on, the intensity ramps up, the fans get louder and the players' veins fill with adrenaline.
It was our first look at a number of the new players this season who are hoping to help the Cardinals improve on last season's 5 and 11 record. Offensive lineman Eric Winston and linebacker John Abraham got their first shot at making the starting lineup. Okay, it's a good bet that both Winston and Abraham will be in the starting line-up when the regular season kicks off on September 8.
But truthfully, the first time the pads go on, players get fired up and things just seem to move a little faster.
"I hope the noise level goes way up. That's the one I can't wait for," Arians said. "I know how much talent we have and I think that you can't get better in the main areas until the noise level goes up. When the firecrackers are going off are they blinking or are they like, 'woo?'"
You know the coaches are anxious to see the team hit. There's no doubt it separates the great players from the rest of the group. And with a screaming crowd on hand, it'll make things that much more exciting.
Arians says that with the fans in the stadium, he might have to be more concerned about calming the team down a bit.
"It's been a long time, I think I forgot how to hit now, so hopefully tomorrow (Sunday) will be a good day to polish up my tackling ability so I'm looking forward to it," linebacker Daryl Washington said.
It's an annual rite of passage, the first day the pads go on, and you can bet the players, the coaches and the fans were ready to go as soon as they woke up. Let the butterflies begin!