Despite the depth chart, Cardinals’ No. 2 WR spot is still up for grabs

Aug 8, 2018, 5:58 PM | Updated: Aug 9, 2018, 8:59 am

Arizona Cardinals receiver J.J. Nelson (14) makes a catch during practice at the NFL football team'...

Arizona Cardinals receiver J.J. Nelson (14) makes a catch during practice at the NFL football team's training camp Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Maybe pump the brakes on calling the Arizona Cardinals’ battle for the second receiver slot alongside Larry Fitzgerald — and what else that initial depth chart said when it was released Monday.

Asked Wednesday if Brice Butler had earned the No. 2 receiver slot as the depth chart indicated, head coach Steve Wilks amounted the importance of it to, well, busywork.

“I wouldn’t say he’s leading the pack,” the coach said. “We had to put someone down at No. 2 and that’s what we did.

“(Several players have) been rotating in and out with the ones. It’s really just a piece of paper.”

That means the rookie Christian Kirk, 29-year-old Greg Little, second-year pro Chad Williams and incumbent J.J. Nelson remain right in the mix with Butler.

Little, who put up at least 400 receiving yards in each year with the Browns from 2011-13, hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2014, making Nelson’s recent resume the strongest of that group after he made 29 receptions for 502 yards despite inconsistent play in 2017.

“It’s kind of different,” Nelson said of his role under offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. “I play everywhere … slot, outside primarily. It’s really diverse. It’s a lot of fun.”

Nelson knows improving his consistency after suffering too many drops last season could separate himself from the pack.

“You don’t know the playbook, they’re not going to put you out there,” he added. “The quarterback is not going to trust you if you’re not in the right spot. That’s kind of the things that I picked up over the last three years, being in the right spot, being consistent, not fooling the quarterback — that’s what they always tell us.”


– Among the notable players who didn’t dress during practice Wednesday were receiver Chad Williams, linebacker Deone Bucannon and linebacker Josh Bynes. Defensive linemen Robert Nkemdiche and Olsen Pierre suited up after sitting out Tuesday.

– Wilks, in his first year as head coach but a defensive backs coach by trade, said he will defer if the Cardinals win coin tosses this year.

“My philosophy is to always defer, get the defense out there and try to set the tone,” he said.

– Rodgers said he will attempt to get a look at rookies all across the board for special teams units on Saturday. That means he doesn’t expect to see too much of players like Budda Baker, a special teams Pro Bowler. Baker could still see snaps on that unit despite moving into a starting safety role.

“Coach (Wilks) has said that whoever we need to use, whoever can help us in those areas, we can do that,” Rodgers said.

– Rodgers will be using the preseason to scout the NFL’s new kickoff rules, which limit where players line up, disallows running starts and wedge blocks, and makes a touchback automatic if the ball is not touched by the receiving team in the end zone.

“Everybody’s got ideas (of how to deal with the new rules)”, Rodgers said. “The games that get played on Thursday night, Friday I’m going to watch all of them.

“I think the unknown is how are things going to be seen from an officiating standpoint.”

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