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Cardinals still searching for third option as preseason finale nears

(AP photos)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals know they have a lead receiver and a franchise running back.

They held out Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson from playing in a 27-3 preseason victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. But barring a heavy dose of two-back sets appearing in the regular season, Arizona head coach Steve Wilks didn’t gain much clarity in searching for which players can be regular third and fourth offensive options.

“It was hard to do when you only have a very limited number of opportunities there and not a lot of yardage. Hopefully we can get some things accomplished this week,” Wilks said of the receiving group, specifically.

Starting quarterback Sam Bradford threw catchable incompletions to receiver J.J. Nelson and tight end Ricky Seals-Jones while going 1-for-4 for six yards passing on Sunday. By the end of the night, two players who had impressed in Week 2 of the preseason went fairly unnoticed.

Rookie receiver Christian Kirk caught two passes for a total of one yard, while second-year pro Chad Williams, who also ran with the first team in Fitzgerald’s absence, didn’t receive a target.

Veteran Brice Butler led Arizona with two catches for 17 yards in a return after he missed last week’s dress rehearsal with a foot injury.

“We got to improve on moving the chains on third down,” Wilks said of the offensive issues. “Sixty-two yards passing is not good enough. We had too many dropped balls.”

Relatively, Arizona gained a little more knowledge about its running back depth behind Johnson.

Rookie Chase Edmonds rushed 11 times for 55 yards, and as backup D.J. Foster went down to a season-ending knee injury, second-year pro T.J. Logan finished six carries for 86 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown.

“He showed some of the things that he showed in college,” Wilks said of Logan. “I know he had a limited role there, but when he was on the field there, very explosive. He gives you some flexibility in the kicking game from the standpoint of return guy. He’s been doing some good things, he’s been flashing.”

Extra points

— In addition to Foster’s season-ending knee injury, Wilks said veteran linebacker/defensive end Arthur Moats suffered an MCL sprain that could keep him out “roughly, maybe” 2-4 weeks.

— Cornerback Brandon Williams, a third-round pick two years ago, missed Sunday with an ankle injury. He could be fighting for a roster spot heading into Thursday. “I feel like he definitely needs to play just to get out there and again be part of a live game situation going against another team,” Wilks said of Williams. “Hopefully he’s able to play this week. He’s still dealing with an ankle and we’ll see how things go.”

— Wilks on Bradford taking a sack, his first of the preseason: “You have to ask him this, but I think that he feels good about it now — not about the sack itself but just about getting hit and being able to get back up. I think you get the jitters out.”

— The Cardinals have yet to discuss any decisions regarding the 53-man roster that must be set by Friday.

— Arizona, which has used many three-safety looks with Tre Boston, Antoine Bethea and Budda Baker, is also considering how to use linebackers Josh Bynes and Haason Reddick in nickel coverages, Wilks said.

— Wilks, unsolicited, on Mason Cole’s success in his evaluation of the offensive line: “I just love, number one, the continuity they’re playing with up front. And I’m very excited about Mason,” the coach said.

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