Cardinals camp: 'Embrace it and fly around'

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton's message to the Arizona Cardinals before training camp opened Wednesday resonated with veteran linebacker Clark Haggans.

"Embrace it right now and fly around today," Horton told defensive players during a walk-through session at Northern Arizona University, "because this will be the best you're going to feel for the remainder of training camp and the season."

Haggans knows the drill. This is his fifth training camp with the Cardinals after eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rules changes have forced teams to cut back on contact in practice while doing away with two-a-day practice sessions. That has to help. But Haggans said Horton was still correct.

"It's almost like having a running workout where you do 20 110-yard sprints," Haggans said during a phone interview following the Cardinals' first practice of training camp. "After the first day, we've got 19 more to go.

"It was great today," he said. "Everyone was flying around, highly competitive."

The team re-signed Haggans for depth and to continue mentoring the team's young outside linebackers, notably Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield. The three have what sounds like a healthy rapport despite -- and perhaps because of -- their large gaps in age.

"Any way I can help them, whether it be working with them in the weight room, trying to get them stronger, talking about a defense, technique, anything extra, I'm here," Haggans said.

Haggans, 35, first went to training camp in 2000. Acho, 23, and Schofield, 25, are just getting started. They run together after practice. Haggans sits next to Schofield in meetings and rags on his understudy's illegible handwriting. Haggans marvels at Acho's attention to detail.

"Sam is very technical, similar to me," Haggans said. "You tell him to do something and he'll do it literally, exactly how you explain it, just like a math equation. O'Brien takes it in and does it, but he adds his own spice to it. They are apples and oranges. Together, we're like a nice pot of gumbo."