No clarity yet in Cardinals’ No. 2 receiver race
Aug 11, 2018, 11:48 PM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
The competition to see who emerges as the Arizona Cardinals’ No. 2 wide receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald is a familiar one. After all, they just went through this last season, and never really found an answer.
They probably can’t afford to do that again this time around though. Not if they’re serious about making a push for a playoff spot in what will likely be a difficult division to navigate.
New head coach Steve Wilks has said throughout camp that he expects the players to sort this out on their own – that one or two guys will naturally separate themselves from the pack in a group that includes J.J. Nelson, Chad Williams, Christian Kirk, Brice Butler and Greg Little.
That may very well happen, but it certainly didn’t happen on Saturday night.
In fact, the exact opposite played out. By the end of the Cardinals 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona receivers had amassed just three receptions for 57 yards. One of those catches – and 48 of those yards – came courtesy of a pass from Charles Kanoff to Jalen Tolliver in the fourth quarter. With all due respect to Tolliver, he’s not going to be the Cardinals’ No. 2 receiver in 2018.
That means all of the other Cardinal receivers combined for a grand total of nine yards on two catches, both of which went to Kirk in the first half. To put that in perspective, the tight ends hauled in six passes for 60 yards.
“We need to be more productive,” Wilks acknowledged. “That’s obvious right there. We’ve got to do a much better job, and it starts with the protection. You know, giving the quarterback the opportunity to sit in the pocket, step up and go through his reads. I thought Charles [Kanoff] did a tremendous job in there when he came in, commanding the huddle and taking those guys down the field and scoring. For a rookie to come in and have those kind of throws was pretty good.”
Granted, there’s only so much to read into the preseason opener. And there are a lot of factors at play. The first team was on the field for just one series, and the offensive line struggled to keep the Charger defense away from Josh Rosen at times.
But it’s not like conditions are ever going to be perfect, and this could have been an opportunity for someone to take an early lead in the race.