FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made the 2½-hour drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff with an Arizona Cardinals staffer on Saturday.
Rodgers-Cromartie had a chance to take in some pretty scenery and think about an even longer journey -- his transformation from a skinny, unrecruited cornerback at Tennessee State to a first-round NFL draft pick.
"It gave me a lot of time to just think about what I've got to do and the work I've got to put in and all the things that I overcame just to get here," said Rodgers-Cromartie, who signed a six-year contract on Friday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. To make room for Rodgers-Cromartie on the roster, the Cardinals released running back Chris Vincent, who signed with the team in April.
The Cardinals have had their share of lengthy contract holdouts by draft picks. But Rodgers-Cromartie missed only two practices, both on Friday.
He also missed the call from his agent, Eugene Parker, telling him that the two sides had come to an agreement.
"Actually, I missed like six calls because I was sleeping," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "I got a couple of text messages that were like, 'Man, get up, it's time to go to work."'
Rodgers-Cromartie was so anxious to report that he arrived at the airport four hours early for his flight from Nashville to Phoenix.
"I thought it was going to be sooner than this," he said. "I had my bags packed like two weeks ago."
He made it in plenty of time for Saturday afternoon's practice, which was moved to Northern Arizona University's Walkup Skydome after storms swept through the area.
The Cardinals hope the 6-foot-2, 183-pound Rodgers-Cromartie will help beef up a pass defense that ranked 28th in the NFL a year ago. But Rodgers-Cromartie isn't guaranteed a starting job, and he'll have to compete with cornerbacks Eric Green and Rod Hood, who played capably last season.
"This year, to be honest, it's just getting in and establishing myself as a player," said Rodgers-Cromartie, who will wear No. 29. "I'm not looking to start right now. If it happens, I'll take on the role. But if not, I'm just going to do my part for this first year, and then this next year, I'm looking to take off."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt has not committed to playing Rodgers-Cromartie right away.