Arizona Cardinals training camp officially takes flight

LITCHFIELD PARK — Kids around the Valley aren’t the only ones heading back to class in late July.

The Arizona Cardinals kicked off training camp on Tuesday, bringing with it all the back-to-school vibes, fresh fits and brand-new office supplies.

But unlike their younger counterparts, Cardinals players were greeted by the helicopter of owner Michael Bidwill in the front lawn and a resort setting as they completed their conditioning tests and got down to studying.

“I’m excited… you get those butterflies again,” tight end Zach Ertz said Tuesday. “Even though I’m going into Year 10, you still get that same feeling as if you’re a rookie. You’re excited about the journey that’s about to begin.

“This is my first training camp in Arizona so it’s a lot of new things, which I’m excited about and just getting in the rhythm. It’s fun to see the guys again, everyone did great on the conditioning test which was great to see But we’re excited about the journey that’s about to take place. ”

Despite the news of offseason acquisition Hollywood Brown getting placed on the active non-football injury list, the first day of Cardinals training camp went off without a hitch, with all players attending and passing the conditioning test, per head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Now, the real fun begins.

Kliff Kingsbury loosening up in Year 4

Kingsbury is well known for his even-keeled demeanor since entering the NFL head-coaching ranks in 2019.

Whether it’s after a practice or a game, Kingsbury doesn’t get too high or too low. It’s a good way to not show all your cards — especially with the media. It can also close people off in the process.

But compared to his early days at the helm, Kingsbury is loosening up in more ways than just the occasional joke or movie reference at a press conference. Familiarity with the franchise paired with a contract extension certainly helps, too.

“I definitely feel like there’s a comfort level with the team. Once you feel some job security and understand the dynamics of the organization more you can try to be your authentic self and that’s what I always try to be,” Kingsbury said Tuesday. I was probably a little more uptight the first couple years just feeling everything out, but we’ve got a great staff now. We’ve all been together almost four years, so the comfort level is there. And really a veteran group of mature players that I can interact with on the same level and have really mature relationships with.

“I was pretty buttoned up the first couple years just feeling everything out and now they get to see a little bit more of who I am,” he added.

‘Can’t Buy Respect’

Cardinals safety Budda Baker has a built in chip on his shoulder.

Baker has not only made claim to being one of the best safeties in the game, he’s racked up triple digit tackles in three of his five NFL seasons and has the intangibles of a leader in the locker room.

It’s a mentality that doesn’t come easy.

But take a look at his back-to-training-camp shirt reading “Can’t Buy Respect” and the dedication is all very clear.

“I wear this shirt a lot,” Baker said. “For me, I just put a lot of hard work into whatever I’m doing and of course right now my working job is football.

“For me, I always put in that extra hard work whether it’s on the field or off the field. You can never buy that and that’s why I always wear this shirt.”

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