The night practices in Flagstaff — especially the first one, which this year means the only one — always brings with it a certain vibe. It’s usually at least a week into camp. By then, the offense and defense are tired of each other. Then coach Ken Whisenhunt pulls out the live goal line session at the end of the evening, and all heck breaks loose.
After Wednesday night’s battle, linebacker Clark Haggans was succinct: “What happens at Lumberjack Stadium stays in Lumberjack Stadium.”
It’s not so much what happens but how it unfolds, with both sides yapping at each other and trash talk of the highest order. It was heated when Kevin Kolb threw a bullet into the back of the end zone that Larry Fitzgerald and Justin Bethel each got a hand on, only to have to ball pop in the air so Fitz could grab a touchdown. It went back the defensive way when fullback Anthony Sherman, on a rare carry, had his helmet blasted off by linebacker Colin Parker. And then the emotion swung to the offense again when offensive coordinator Mike Miller and quarterback John Skelton conspired to fool the world — with Miller calling the exact same play for Sherman and telling Skelton to keep it for a naked bootleg without telling the offense.
“We get the best out of each other,” said tackle Jeremy Bridges, the king of the talkers Wednesday. “We get on each other’s nerves as you can see. It’s bragging rights amongst us. But in the big scheme of things, there will be a lot of people who will feel the wrath of Birdgang this year.”
Cornerback William Gay doesn’t play in the goal line package, but he was up in the defensive unit’s face after every play, like a boxing corner man pumping up his prize fighter.
“It’s the only thing that’s fully, fully live, tackle to the ground,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “Situation like that, you can’t let the other unit get the best of you.”
“No one ever wants to lose,” Skelton said. “You want to score a touchdown every time on offense and you don’t want to give up one on defense. It’s just pride.”
There was no official winner — Kolb said Whisenhunt called it a tie — but when Bridges was asked about who won, he didn’t miss a beat. “The Cardinals.”
(And yes, video will be posted later.)
— Kolb said his quad “held up fine” — he was not limited at all — but he knew everything else took a backseat to the part at the end. “The intensity was through the roof.”
— Safety Adrian Wilson and running back William Powell each came out of the practice after what looked like some sort of leg injury for each. Neither looked serious.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anthony Sherman, Calais Campbell, Clark Haggans, Colin Parker, Jeremy Bridges, John Skelton, Justin Bethel, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Miller, William Powell
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