WRs Sherfield, Little leave it on the line in Cardinals preseason finale
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Confidence in the Arizona Cardinals’ receiver room may not be high outside University of Phoenix Stadium walls, but the players held out of the preseason finale Thursday said a lot about what those inside the organization think about the group heading into the regular season.
Second-year pro Chad Williams and rookie Christian Kirk joined veteran Larry Fitzgerald on the sidelines for a 21-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, putting the backend position battles in the spotlight one more time.
Undrafted rookie Trent Sherfield caught two balls for 44 yards, while veteran Greg Little made one last flash in attempting to make his NFL comeback complete.
Quarterback Mike Glennon, the third-stringer who got the start Thursday, dropped a 26-yard pass into an opening in Denver’s coverage to Sherfield during the first quarter, setting up a two-yard touchdown pass to Little.
“Trent, to me, separated himself tonight,” said Cardinals coach Steve Wilks, who lamented his first loss as a head coach. “That was the one thing I was looking for from the standpoint of the receiver position. I thought Greg played well and at times throughout, those guys were inconsistent from the drops, but for the most part I thought those guys did a good job.”
Glennon started with Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen both sitting out, completing 8-of-10 passes for 69 yards. He showed headiness and touch throughout after missing last week’s win over the Dallas Cowboys with a forearm injury. Attempting to set up a field goal late in the first half Thursday, Glennon snuck a ball over a Broncos defender to connect with a sliding Brice Butler for a 19-yard gain.
Backup quarterback Charles Kanoff and the offense struggled in the second half, going 3-for-11 for just 42 yards.
Now, it comes down to how many receivers the Cardinals decide to carry into the regular season with the 53-man roster cuts due this Saturday.
One of Little, Sherfield or even J.J. Nelson, who had just two catches all preseason, could be left off the roster if Arizona only retains six receivers.
Little’s future holds the most drama. The 29-year-old is attempting to make a comeback and hasn’t played in an NFL regular season game since 2014.
“I feel pretty good man,” said Little of his chances to make the roster. “I feel really good. This has been a blessing. It truly has, man. God has really worked in my favor. Thank Coach Wilks and Steve Keim and those guys — the whole Cardinals organization just for giving me a shot. It’s been a blessing.”
– Wilks on the decision not to play Rosen, who had been practicing but was 10 days removed from banging his thumb on a teammate’s helmet: “I didn’t think it was worth the risk.”
Asked if there was consideration Rosen would have gained more experience by getting more reps, Wilks said: “I’ll deal with that when the season gets here. I didn’t want to have a setback tonight.”
– The Cardinals escaped the preseason finale relatively unscathed, with only safety A.J. Howard suffering a pulled groin and safety Harlan Miller injuring his ankle.
– Defensive end Jacquies Smith dropped back to get in the way of a shallow route, picking off Chad Kelly’s pass at the Arizona 34-yard line and returning it 13 yards to set up the Cardinals’ first score.
– Cornerback Brandon Williams, the 2016 third-round pick who had struggled to earn snaps this preseason, was tested out as a kick return man on Thursday.
– Wilks said the 53-man roster decisions will be decided upon Friday and PUP list decisions for tight end Jermaine Gresham (Achilles) and defensive end Markus Golden (ACL) will come this weekend.