With fewer expectations and an underdog status heading into 2017, coach Bruce Arians is looking to have his Arizona Cardinals flying high once again.
“Super Bowl favorites” seemed to be sung in unison prior to the start of the 2016 season for the Arizona Cardinals — but we all know how that song ended. Fast-forward to 2017 and these Cardinals are ready to start fresh — without the added pressure. Now, the only pressing matter that seems to motivate this year’s squad is urgency.
With the careers of Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer dwindling down, the window for a coveted Lombardi Trophy is closing. Throw in a recent cancer scare for the head coach, and certainly you can understand why this team wants — and needs — to win now. But don’t ask Bruce Arians about his health. After the team concluded its conditioning test on Friday, the coach said, “yes I’m healthy. Let’s get that s–t out of the way right now.” But his players want to win for him. Safety Tyrann Mathieu recently told ESPN, “he’s been through a lot, he’s had a long journey, and we want to send him out on a high (note), so we’ve got a lot of work to do this season.”
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These Cardinals are certainly filled with fresh faces — but a solid, young core remains intact. A great mix of budding young stars and seasoned veterans should only bode well for a team looking for its first championship. These players will also have the guidance of a well-respected coaching staff. Add all that together with 5 preseason games, and this team should be more than ready for Sep. 10.
With training camp underway at Univ. of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, optimism flows freely among Cardinal fans. It’s a new season; a fresh start to reclaim the NFC West. And the ‘Birdgang’ are well-aware of that. When asked how the Red Birds looked on Saturday after their first open practice, long-time fan Ricardo Leal had just one word for me: promising.
The pads are on now; the season is ever-closer. The answer to what kind of team the Cardinals will be this year will soon be answered.