The Cardinals are fighting against the odds after going 4-13 last season while losing quarterback Kyler Murray to an ACL tear that still has no timetable for return.
According to new head coach Jonathan Gannon, one place the fighting will not carry over is between teammates at training camp.
"It's a non-negotiable," Gannon said regarding any in-camp fisticuffs, per the team website. "And why it's a non-negotiable is because you get thrown out in a game for it."
Gannon backed up his proclamation shortly after when offensive guard Dennis Daley and defensive lineman L.J. Collier partook in a brief skirmish. According to team reporter Darren Urban, Gannon spoke to both before sending them to the locker room ahead of practice's end.
Scuffles in the early days of camp are often a rite of passage of sorts for players transitioning into a new season -- an impulsive activity that helps expel any pent-up energy as teams transition from padless practices and half-tackling to more full-speed sessions.
Many like the one between Daley and Collier have already occurred across the NFL, with the most high-profile scuffle taking place Saturday between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and linebacker Jack Cochrane.
But there's wisdom in the rookie head coach's no-nonsense policy. A fight in practice is a quick way to get hurt and derail a team's depth chart, and once the games begin players will need to keep their cool anyway -- lest they cost their team a drive-changing penalty or, worse, an ejection on top of it.
Arizona especially will need all hands on deck heading into 2023. Beyond contending with Murray's injury, the Cardinals are without their best wideout from the last three years after releasing DeAndre Hopkins, and the defense is looking to rebound from its worst-ranked scoring season (31st) since 2003.
The team is also installing a new system throughout, with offensive coordinator Drew Petzing and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis joining Gannon as first-time coordinators.
The install is understandably far more important than blowing off steam.
For what it's worth, Murray believes that installation, both in terms of new schemes and new culture, is already going well.
"I think a lot of it comes down to accountability and communication," the QB said Saturday when asked what Gannon has done to transform Arizona's culture. "Not only that, he knows football. He knows football, he coaches it. Guys that already know football, get even smarter. Guys that may not be on the same level as some guys, everyone's getting smarter. ... He's a real genuine guy. Relates to everybody. As far as what he's doing right now, I love what he's doing."