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Steady demeanor, open to change: Cardinals’ Wilks navigates 2-8 season

FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2018, file photo, Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks speaks after an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals are reeling from their worst loss of a bad season, and the future doesn't look forgiving. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks admitted long ago that he didn’t see it coming.

It hasn’t let up.

Arizona is a bad football team in his first season on the job. Time and time again, that’s been proven true.

Time and time again, culprits of a 2-8 season thus far have been generalities: poor execution, missed assignments and failure to finish.

From Wilks’ perspective, there isn’t room to deviate from his demeanor. A steady leader, he figures, is the only thing that can hold a struggling team together, and that will be tested no more than how the Cardinals respond following a 23-21 loss to the previously single-win Oakland Raiders on Sunday night.

“It hasn’t changed me from my standpoint of my approach with the guys,” Wilks said Monday. “I continue to be the same guy with regards to that because I think that’s what they’re looking for. They’re looking for consistency, and it starts with me.”

That said, Wilks knows that there’s no room for sticking to his guns when it comes to routines in terms of practice and in terms of repeated mistakes.

Changes need to happen, even if he must appear unwavering in his message.

Wilks said he’s already been making alterations to the team’s daily schedules, getting players out of meeting rooms and increasing the number of walk-throughs they go through.

Come gametime, even more changes could be afoot.

“We’re open to a lot of anything,” Wilks said.

“Right now being 2-8, you’re open to a lot of things from the standpoint of personnel changes, things that you would think would give us an opportunity for us to be successful and win a football game,” he added. “There’s some things that we’ve talked about that we’re probably going to try to make some moves on.”

Wilks didn’t go into detail about what changes — or how significant of ones — are possible with the Los Angeles Chargers up next.

All he knows is that this season has challenged him beyond what he expected heading into his first NFL head coaching job.

“Number one, you got to learn how to persevere,” Wilks said. “It’s tough. You got to learn how to hit the reset button and not linger on things because once again, one loss can turn into two. I try to pull out the positives, try to learn from the negative stuff and try to get those guys to see the big picture.”

INJURY UPDATE

— Linebacker Deone Bucannon (chest contusion) was the only Cardinal who suffered an injury against the Raiders, though Wilks was unsure about his status.

— Arizona released rookie kicker Matt McCrane on Monday after he made three extra points in place of injured starter Phil Dawson (hip). Dawson is expected to be ready to play against the Chargers.

— Wilks is also hopeful that receiver Chad Williams (ankle), offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (knee), safety Budda Baker (knee) and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (calf) will return from their injuries Sunday.

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