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Four Cardinals represent Arizona in state’s first Pro Bowl

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GLENDALE, Ariz.– All season, the Arizona Cardinals had the plan to end the season where they started it– University of Phoenix Stadium.

They opened the 2014 campaign with a Week 1 win on Monday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers, and hoped to end it by playing in Super Bowl XLIX.

The Wild Card round loss to the Carolina Panthers ended the hopes of their dream season, but four Cardinals still get to wrap up the year at their home stadium when they compete in the Pro Bowl Sunday.

“At the end of the day, you play to get to the Super Bowl and get that ring,” two-time Pro Bowl special-teamer Justin Bethel said. “But to get that accolade of saying you’re one of the best players, it’s a great feeling to have that and be able top move forward with that.”

Bethel joins defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson as the Cardinals’ representatives.

“I think it’s a good thing, being the home team, having a few guys represent,” Bethel said. “I do love the home field.”

While Super Bowl XLIX is Arizona’s third big game, it is the state’s first Pro Bowl, as it is typically played in Hawaii. So even though some of the perennial Pro Bowlers may have a feel for Hawaii in late January, they might not know what there is to do in Arizona.

Because it is his fourth Pro Bowl, it is up to Peterson to play host and senior statesman for the out-of-town stars.

“They ask me where to eat, where the clubbing spots are, which I don’t know anything about, what there is to do in the daytime, things like that,” Peterson said. “I am pretty much the travel guy right now.”

As for the first-time Pro Bowler, Campbell just finished his seventh year in the NFL and is a player that many felt should have already made a few Pro Bowls by now. He had 8.0 sacks in 2011 and was named to Pro Football Focus’ All-NFL second team and set a career-high with 9.0 sacks in 2013.

After another solid season, Campbell finally got that long-awaited call.

“I could get used to this,” he said. “I could definitely see myself doing this again sometime.”

So could the other players in the league. Campbell said he received congratulations from 49ers left tackle Joe Staley during their Week 17 matchup. Campbell said one of the best parts of being in the Pro Bowl is the respect of his peers.

“Everybody has a mutual respect for each other,” he said. “We’re the best of the best. We’re out here just having a good time.”

The light-hearted atmosphere is evident this week. During Peterson’s interview, Cromartie snuck into the media pile and starting interviewing his backfield partner.

Peterson takes it all easy, including heckling the Pro Bowl rookie on the team. During practice Thursday, Peterson caught Campbell looking at the playbook and made sure to give him a hard time for it.

“I don’t know why he was looking through that thing,” Peterson said. “He’s a newbie. He’s kind of new to this kind of thing, making sure he’s well-prepared for the game.”

Campbell had a different view.

“I was looking at the rules,” he said sheepishly.

The Cardinals will all play for Team Carter in Sunday’s Pro Bowl, and if you ask them, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s fun especially because we’re all on the same team,” Bethel said. “We all get to hang out, talk, laugh just like we do like it’s another regular season game.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misreported the number of Pro Bowls that Patrick Peterson has played in. He has played in four Pro Bowls.