GLENDALE, AZ — Kliff Kingsbury joked that the Arizona Cardinals coaches held group prayer at the office in hopes Rodney Hudson would decide to return for another season rather than retire. The Cardinals starting center proved himself that valuable in his first season with the team.
"We just saw the production that we had when he was healthy last year, and how we were rolling offensively and how he was just able to calm the entire unit and get us in the right looks all the time," Kingsbury said. "He's a big part of the success we had early on, and then he obviously got banged up, but he's a big-time player for us."
Hudson's contemplating of his future in football came after the birth of his second child.
"You spend a lot of time away from your family, your loved ones," Hudson said. "I think at my age, you at least start to think about it, but that's behind me now."
Injuries also nagged at Hudson last season. While he acknowledged that injuries are a part of football, no matter your age, a rib injury was particularly challenging.
"I would say it was much different than any other injury I've had. Just from that first week or so not even being able to really sleep on my back, I had to sleep in a recliner for a while."
The center position has become increasingly more valuable in today's NFL with up-tempo offenses and passing games, so Hudson's return is a big boost for a Cardinals team looking to take the next step.
"Rodney studies more film than anybody I've ever been around," Kingsbury said. "[Your center] has to be a very heads-up, cerebral, tough leader. And when you have a good one, they're hard to replace."
In other happenings from day three of Cardinals camp, Hollywood Brown was dressed and participating in walk-throughs. Kingsbury said the hope is that Brown will return fully at some point next week.
Kingsbury also singled out Isaiah Simmons as a standout Friday, intercepting a Murray pass and returning it for a touchdown.
"He has the ability to make those impact plays each and every week, and so the more confidence he can build in that role he has, the better we'll be."
The Cardinals will wrap up week one of training camp by welcoming fans to State Farm Stadium on Saturday. Practice runs from 1:30-3 p.m. Tickets and parking are free, but must be claimed digitally on the Cardinals website.
"There will just be extra juice from the players," Kingsbury said. "There's no doubt anytime they get people in the stadium, it's great for them. They'll go a little bit harder, have more bounce in their step. And it'll be great to see everybody without the COVID protocols, and they can just come in here and enjoy the day."