GLENDALE, Ariz. – After a week of walk-throughs and repetition, the Arizona Cardinals are looking forward to a change of pace.
The team's training camp Fan Fest takes place Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
It offers players the chance to play in front of a larger crowd while doing some different drills, most notably full-speed, full-contact, short-yardage and goal-line situations.
In other words, the pads will be on and the hitting will be on display.
"I finally get to pancake a few people," offensive tackle Bobby Massey said Friday. "We're not here to hurt each other, that's for later on down the road against other teams. But we're going to have fun. We're going to have fun and people will enjoy the show."
Coach Bruce Arians said he feels the team is on schedule in terms of getting ready and preparing to play its first preseason game against the Houston Texans on Aug. 9.
"There's still some young players who I'd like to see grow. But that's not going to happen until we go out against Houston," Arians said.
"There will be a little bit this Saturday because the noise level will go up, the fans and everything. You want to see them as the lights get brighter, do they shy away or do they shine? I'm anxious to see Saturday, but I'm really anxious to see next Saturday."
Arians mentioned fourth-year linebacker Sam Acho's aggressiveness, which has impressed him as Acho looks to regain his rookie season form when he had seven sacks. Acho said it will be good to go full speed, especially after a broken ankle landed him on injured reserve early last season.
"It'll be a chance to let loose some of that controlled intensity that we've been having," Acho said, adding that he's getting used to mid-camp soreness.
"You have to get fired up because it's man on man. It's win or lose, there's no middle ground. It's either they get in or you keep them out."
One player who wishes he could be on the field, but isn't quite ready is safety Tyrann Mathieu. The player who became known as the "Honey Badger" for his aggressive style of play at LSU is on the physically-unable-to perform list while he comes back from an ACL injury suffered last December.
"He's begging me to come off PUP, but he's doing a good job of coaching Deone (Bucannon) out there and keeping himself mentally in it," Arians said. Bucannon, a safety, was the Cardinals' top draft pick this year.
Mathieu said watching from the sideline has been difficult for the second-year pro.
"It's tough watching practice, people getting better than you," Mathieu said. "Mainly I miss that camaraderie, when the team comes together and everybody's trying to pick the leader, who the leader of the team is and not being able to be out there to showcase your talent and leadership, that's tough."
NOTES: Arizona signed veteran offensive tackle Max Starks, who practiced Friday. Starks, 6-foot-8 and 345 pounds, is in his 11th NFL season after spending the first nine with the Pittsburgh Steelers and briefly last year with the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams. He won two Super Bowls with the Steelers and has 10 games of postseason experience. Arians said he's looking for experience and depth on the offensive line, and Starks knows the offense from his days with Arians in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals released tackle Cory Brandon and kicker Danny Hrapmann. ... WR John Brown, the team's second third-round draft pick earlier this year, missed Friday's practice with a hamstring injury from Wednesday's session. Arians said he could do some work on Saturday. ... Arians said pass rusher John Abraham is expected to join the team in five or six days. Abraham was arrested for DUI in June and has yet to arrive at camp. ... RB Andre Ellington returned to practice after being held out since Tuesday with a neck problem. He missed two days with Thursday being a day off. .... The Cardinals signed LB Derrell Johnson, a rookie undrafted free agent out of East Carolina. Johnson was released by the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday.
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