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Rosen-Kirk connection highlights first day of Cardinals rookie mini-camp

(AP photos)

TEMPE, Ariz. – It had been three years, maybe longer, since quarterback Josh Rosen and wide receiver Christian Kirk last shared the field together.

Back then they were highly recruited high school prospects, traveling from one all-star camp to the next. And now, the two are teammates with the Arizona Cardinals.

“It’s crazy how paths cross,” Rosen said Friday. “I tried to get him to UCLA, we ended up playing each other and then now we’re on the same team again. Funny things happen.”

Though they went their separate ways in college — Kirk turned down UCLA to play at Texas A&M — their time apart did little to affect the on-field chemistry between the two.

Rosen and Kirk teamed up for the highlight of the day on the first day of rookie mini-camp: A 35-yard completion for a touchdown.

“Anytime you can come out on Day 1 and make plays like that, it always feels good,” Kirk said. “We’ve already kind of had that type of chemistry. I know he’s a real accurate passer, always puts the ball where it needs to be. Nothing new, really.”

Rosen and Kirk became close friends during the recruiting process. Kirk even spent time at Rosen’s house during his visit to UCLA.

It’s a friendship, again, that continued from afar.

“We kind of picked up where we left off,” Kirk said. “(Rosen) is a great dude, great guy and just easy to get along with.”

The touchdown, which saw Rosen hit Kirk in stride, happened towards the end of the two-hour and 15-minute practice, well after the nerves had worn off and much of the rust had been knocked off. Remember, most of the 61 players on the field Friday had not played football in well over four months.

“I thought it went well. Had fun,” Rosen said. “It’s just nice to get out there after such a long draft process to actually start playing football again.”

Rosen and Kirk were the Cardinals’ top two draft picks. Rosen was selected 10th overall, while Kirk went in the second round, 47th overall.

“We’re getting there,” Kirk said, referring to that all-important quarterback-wide receiver relationship. “A lot of its just communication. That’s one of the things that Coach (Steve) Wilks always, kind of, harps on is communication. It’s the one free thing we got in this world. So we just got to make sure that we take advantage of that, communicating with one another and getting better.”

The communication, and not just between Rosen and Kirk but all the players, will continue throughout the weekend, and it will continue off the field as well. There’s the work in the classroom and then the work away from the facility, too.

The players are staying in a nearby hotel, where the bonding will continue. And that includes Kirk, who despite growing up a short drive away in Scottsdale, is living the hotel life for a couple of days. In fact, he and Rosen are roommates.

“I thought it would be a good idea to be with the guys… just get the whole experience of being at rookie mini-camp,” Kirk said. “You know, that commute is a little far — I mean it’s 30 minutes but driving back and forth, it’s just something that I didn’t really want to do. I wanted to be with the guys and just kind of take in the whole entire experience.”

Now how soon the Rosen-Kirk relationship shifts to Sundays in the fall is yet to be determined.

The Cardinals, though, believe it won’t be too long, especially after seeing the two connect for a long touchdown on Friday.

“We’re hoping that we can get that connection going early and often,” Wilks said.

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