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Gut-wrenching move: Cards to train in Prescott

The Arizona Republic


The Arizona Republic

TEMPE – When the Arizona Cardinals’ 2005 season is chronicled, the story will begin last week, when some young wrestlers staying at Northern Arizona University started feeling gastrointestinal distress.

The illnesses, suspected to be norovirus, led the Cardinals to move their training camp from NAU in Flagstaff to Prescott, based on the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The Cardinals announced the move yesterday, just a couple of hours after a busload of team employees returned from a tour in Prescott. Rod Graves, vice president of football operations, marveled at what had transpired.

“What we normally plan for over months of time, we basically had a 24-hour period to pull it all together,” Graves said.

The Cardinals will hold their entire training camp in Prescott, where they had planned to spend just four days.

Coach Dennis Green already is using the move to his advantage. He sees himself as an underdog and has tried to sell that mind-set to his team.

Moving camp? He brushes off the significance like crumbs on a table.

“You can’t sit around and cry about it,” he said. “Time moves on. Nobody is going to say to the Arizona Cardinals, ‘Too bad.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

Training camp, he said, “revolves around three hots and a cot and a whole lot of football, a whole lot of practice.”

The Cardinals report to training camp Sunday and will stay in the dormitories at Embry-Riddle until Aug. 11. They will also use the school’s dining and meeting facilities.

They play a preseason game against Dallas on Aug. 13 and will return to Prescott on Aug. 14, with headquarters at the Quality Inn in Prescott Valley. They will stay there until they break camp Aug. 24.

They will practice at Embry-Riddle’s athletic fields in addition to three locations in Prescott: Keebler Field, Pioneer Park and Ken Lindley Field.

Tim Peterson, the team’s turf manager, is in Prescott helping to prepare the fields.

Practice locations could change daily, depending on logistics and field conditions.

The players probably will take the move in stride. There are some advantages. Prescott is 30 minutes closer to Phoenix, and its elevation, about 5,400 feet, is nearly 2,000 feet less than Flagstaff’s.

Players usually struggle with the elevation early in camp at Flagstaff.

“To be totally honest with you, no,” safety Adrian Wilson said when asked if he would miss anything about Flagstaff.

Holding camp in Prescott shouldn’t affect the team, he said.

“I don’t think it’s going to matter,” he said. “I think guys are ready to get to camp regardless of where it’s at. I don’t think this will be a distraction.”

The illnesses at NAU have affected about 100 people.

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