Cardinals flocking to High Country

File photo by Jared Dort

MARCEL Shipp should contend for a starting RB job again this year.

Yet that’s the mood around much of the state as the dog days of August arrive.

While the Diamondbacks continue to flounder – only generating news when trade rumors heat up – an air of excitement continues to build around the Cards.

No one is expecting a Super Bowl or anything, but there is legitimate hope that Arizona can finally make a few steps out of the NFC cellar in 2004.

Much of the newfound hype can be traced to coach Dennis Green, who takes over a franchise that went 4-12 a year ago. He’s already instilled a new sense of discipline and intensity to the team and has even promised a winning season this year.

The NFL sanctioned the Cardinals recently because some of Green’s off-season workouts were too tough.

“I would say this,” Green said about the sanctions in a press release this week. “Most fans would probably say that Denny Green said he would work with a high level of intensity and tempo, and work hard, and the National Football League verified that.”

Verde Valley fans won’t be far from the action when the Cardinals begin their preseason training camp this weekend in Flagstaff. Players will arrive for physicals on Sunday, then workouts begin Monday morning.

The Cardinals will stay in Flagstaff through Aug. 19, then will move to Prescott for a week of practices before taking up residence in Tempe for the rest of the season.

Flagstaff workouts will be held on the campus of Northern Arizona University, either in the Walkup Skydome or on the adjacent outdoor practice fields. All practices are free and open to the public.

Morning workouts usually start at 8:45 or 9:30 a.m. and will run until around 11. Afternoon workouts generally start at 3:30 or 4 p.m. and will end between 4:30-5:30.

The players will wear pads usually only for the morning workouts.

“We don’t wear pads a lot during the season, which was why it was so important during the organized team workouts to learn how to practice with intensity without pads,” Green said.

“We will be a physical team and will practice with a lot of intensity and very hard.”

The team’s annual Red-White scrimmage will be a nighttime affair this season. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at the Skydome on Friday, Aug. 6. The cost is $8 for reserved seating, $4 for kids 12 and under. For more information or to reserve seats, call (928) 523-5661.

A 15-minute autograph session will be held featuring all Cardinals players and coaches after the scrimmage. Another autograph session will be held on Saturday, Aug. 7 from 9-9:30 a.m. at the Skydome with a mock game to follow at 10.

The first exhibition game will come Aug. 14 at Minnesota, coach Green’s former team.

San Diego will travel to Sun Devil Stadium for an Aug. 21 preseason scrimmage. Other preseason opponents include the Oakland Raiders (home on Aug. 28) and the Denver Broncos (away on Sept. 2). Visit http://www.azcardinals.com for ticket info.

The season opener comes Sept. 12 at St. Louis. The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots come to Tempe on Sept. 19.

Other home opponents this season include New Orleans (Oct. 3), Seattle (Oct. 24), New York Giants (Nov. 14), N.Y. Jets (Nov. 28), San Francisco (Dec. 12), St. Louis (Dec. 19) and Tampa Bay (Jan. 2).

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