Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

–Tight end Jermaine Gresham and defensive end Markus Golden, two important starters, were activated off the physically unable to perform list and could be available for Sunday’s opener against Washington, head coach Steve Wilks said.

“Well, it’s still ongoing,” he said Monday. “You look at practice today, and Jermaine looked well. He was running around and catching the ball. And again, I don’t want to try and throw him out there too soon, him or Markus, to have a setback. But, I think we’re moving in the right direction. So, it’s close.

–Center Mason Cole, who was a four-year starter at Michigan and a third-round pick by the team this year, is the Cardinals’ starter after veteran A.Q. Shipley suffered a torn ACL in training camp. Cole only spent one season at center in college, his junior season, but he looked more than ready for the task during preseason action.

He credited head coach Steve Wilks for helping him maintain the position.

“Coming into this league being young, it can be overwhelming at times,” Cole said. “To have a coach that’s got your back, believes in you, that trusts you and is willing to let you win a spot, is huge.”

–If you don’t count Larry Fitzgerald’s 1,234 career receptions, the Cardinals’ other four wide receivers have a grand total of 77 NFL catches between them. Third-year pro J.J. Nelson has 74 of them.

“With Larry leading us, it’s going to be a fun season,” said receiver Trent Sherfield, an undrafted rookie free agent from Vanderbilt. “We have a lot of young guys, a lot of names that a lot of people probably don’t know about. But in that room, a lot of guys that are working hard — Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson, Christiaan Kirk, Jalen Tolliver — we’re all putting in work and been pushing each other since the spring.”

–In his last year as head coach, Bruce Arians pledged he would make sure running back David Johnson got at least 25-30 touches a game. That effort went for naught after Johnson injured his wrist in the season opener and was lost for the rest of the year.

New Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks doesn’t want to put a number on Johnson’s touches even though he’s on record as saying the entire Cardinals’ offense will run through Johnson.

“I don’t think you can really put a number on his touches,” Wilks said. “I think it’s all based off the flow of the game. It’s all based off what you scouted on film. What are those guys trying to do? Are they trying to stack the box? Do we need to pass more to loosen them up? A split-safety look, do we need to run? So, I think it’s all versatile and based off the looks that we’re getting and the rhythm of the game.”

–Sunday’s game will feature two of the league’s best cornerbacks when the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson and the Redskins’ Josh Norman take the field. Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks has had the luxury of working with both men and sees some very likeable similarities.

“Really just how competitive those guys are. They love to compete. It means something to them,” Wilks said. “I don’t really get into trying to compare guys, because I think they’re totally different. They’re both great players and it’s going to be great to compete against him (Norman). I know Patrick is looking forward to competing against their guys as well.”

–Wide receiver Christian Kirk was seen as mostly a slot receiver when the Cardinals drafted him in the second round out of Texas A&M. Now that he’s climbed up the depth chart as a starter opposite Larry Fitzgerald, slot receiver seems out of the question. Or is it?

“Right now, we’re moving those guys all around,” head coach Steve Wilks said Monday. “He’s been inside. He’s lined up at the Z position, and today he was at the X. It’s all based off who’s in there, and I think that’s the great thing about our system. These guys are very versatile in what they’re doing and can play multiple positions.”

–Defensive end Chandler Jones: It could just as easily go to running back David Johnson, who is back to anchoring a new power run rushing attack, or cornerback Patrick Peterson, who envisions his biggest year yet now that the team has switched to a new 4-3 scheme that will feature a ton of zone coverage. But Jones has been one of the league’s most underrated superstars the past two years, leading the NFL over that time with the most sacks (28) and tackles for loss (43) than anyone. Now that he won’t be asked to drop back into coverage on occasion as an outside linebacker, he can focus solely on getting into the backfield and creating havoc.

–Wide receiver Christian Kirk: The team’s second-round pick out of Texas A&M, Kirk possesses so many skills that a hefty chunk of the Cardinals’ playbook has already been designed with him specifically in mind. Kirk will be moved around as a receiver, playing inside and out while also being used as a ball carrier on reverses and pitches out of the backfield. He’ll learn the ropes quickly by working alongside the venerable Larry Fitzgerald and could make a run at NFC Rookie of the Year if the quarterback situation in Arizona provides consistency and some spark.