Could Cardinals target tight ends, get a Golden boost vs. Rams?
TEMPE, Ariz. — Suffering such a flattening defeat to open the season left the Arizona Cardinals “salty,” defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said Thursday.
It could get a little more sweet if the team adds two energizing starters on Sunday for a Week 2 visit to the Los Angeles Rams.
While the Cardinals ruled out starting right tackle Andre Smith (elbow) and backup defensive tackle Olsen Pierre (toe) on Friday, head coach Steve Wilks left the potential returns of tight end Jermaine Gresham (Achilles) and Markus Golden (ACL) on the table. Both players have practiced all week on a limited basis and are listed as questionable.
Gresham or not, Arizona might be wise to key in on their tight ends this week.
In a 33-13 win over the Oakland Raiders on Monday, Los Angeles picked off three passes but allowed 303 passing yards. One-hundred-eighty of those went to veteran tight end Jared Cook, who caught nine passes on 12 targets.
“They got matched up on linebackers a lot,” said tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, a second-year pro and former college receiver who has filled in for Gresham. “If I get my opportunity against a linebacker, I got to go in. Watching that game, just seeing how they went off — (Cook) especially — if you get matched up on a linebacker, you got to win.
“If I use my speed and my technique and my ability to get open, it’ll be a good game for me.”
Against a formidable Rams defense, a tight end who puts money in the bank by blocking for his running backs could kick-start the offense by helping the Cardinals set a tone that they didn’t produce a week prior. Gresham’s presence would be a positive addition in that regard.
“He doesn’t like catching the ball. He’d rather block,” running back David Johnson said. “When he gets going in the game, he’ll let you know he wants to run the ball. He’ll yell it out to the refs, to the other opponents, and he’ll definitely let us know.”
Added Wilks: “He brings great skillset on the field, his blocking and catching, but he’s a leader in that locker room.”
Golden trending positively
Golden not only returned to practice on a limited basis and looked good while doing so this week. Wilks began thinking about how to use him if he were active against Los Angeles.
Though the defensive end is listed as questionable, Arizona’s head coach remained optimistic he was more than close to returning.
“We got to be smart and limit his reps, put him in situations where he can be effective,” Wilks said Friday. “Whether that be on third down, trying to rush the passer, those are things to think about. Again, he’s a guy like Jermaine that brings a lot of energy, communicates well, high-energy guy, guys feed off him.”
— Patrick Peterson on the Rams’ passing attack that includes quarterback Jared Goff and receivers Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods: “The only thing I’d probably say what’s unique about the Ram’s passing game … they don’t really have a true identity for what they want to do in their passing game because I feel like they try to do what the defense is not good at. It’s really hard to try to get a beat on their passing game. We know the passing concepts, we just don’t know when they’re going to get them. Those guys do a good job of window-dressing things, jet motions so they make sure our eyes are all over the place.”
— Wilks called Smith week-to-week but added it’s “promising he’ll be back next week.”
— Of Smith’s replacement, John Wetzel, Wilks said: “I feel great about Wetzel. Had a pretty good camp, done some great things, has also played a lot of football for us around here.”
— David Johnson on backup running back Chase Edmonds: “Like Coach Kirby (Wilson) always says, he transfers from practice — what he does in practice — to the game and you can’t tell any different. The light doesn’t change him, he doesn’t panic or anything. He just goes out there and plays.”
— Wilks on Johnson’s status on the injury report (the RB was limited up until Friday with a back injury): “I talked to him this morning and asked him if he was fine. And he talked about some things he did in the weight room, and he was bragging a little bit there. So he’s ready to go.”