Cardinals see value for young players in 2nd go-round vs. Rams

Dec 21, 2018, 9:06 AM | Updated: 10:38 am
Cardinals rookies Josh Rosen (left) and Mason Cole (right) (AP photos)...
Cardinals rookies Josh Rosen (left) and Mason Cole (right) (AP photos)
(AP photos)

TEMPE, Ariz. — There will be no shutting down for the Arizona Cardinals.

Not for Larry Fitzgerald, who played with gusto late in a blowout loss against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. This week against the Los Angeles Rams, he might be playing the last home game of his NFL career if he opts for retirement.

Not for rookies like quarterback Josh Rosen and center Mason Cole, whose futures must be protected with all the focus on improving next season.

It’s next year that the Cardinals have in mind when they talk about the value of repetition and experience with games against the Rams and Seattle Seahawks left in 2018.

“I don’t think that Wade Phillips or Pete Carroll are going anywhere soon, in my opinion,” Arizona GM Steve Keim said Friday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, respectively referencing the Rams defensive coordinator and Seahawks head coach.”

Cardinals coach Steve Wilks has preached the value of reps for Rosen, even if it comes with the risk of the quarterback getting hurt playing behind an offensive line fused together with three rookies and two midseason pickups.

Rosen said this week he’d be frustrated if he were shut down.

“I couldn’t make it any more clear. Like, I would be very frustrated if they didn’t play me. Those are decisions above me,” Rosen said. “I think mistakes are valuable. You want to minimize them, but more importantly you don’t want to make them twice.”

Arizona has already played and beaten the San Francisco 49ers twice, and Rosen said he compared the two games to see hard evidence to determine his own improvements this year.

The rookie added that the defenses deployed by the 49ers, Seahawks and even the Falcons are similar enough to help him gain comfort.

“Seeing San Francisco a second time I think is a little more fluid,” he said. “We got Seattle again, we got the Rams again … but then you play Minnesota and you’re like, ‘Alright, what the hell is going on?'”

Rosen watched from the sidelines in Week 2 as then-starting quarterback Sam Bradford took punishment from the Rams’ defensive line led by Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Ndamukong Suh. Los Angeles won that game, 34-0.

That game was just the second outing for Cole, who said he’s excited to compare how he performs the second time around against the NFL’s most talked-about defensive front.

“(There’s) not much of a better test,” Cole said. “As much as all this sucks as a young guy to have these learning experiences … it’s good to have these experiences.”

“At least for me, personally, as a young guy, to play guys again, your run fits are a little better,” he added. “I don’t think a defense is going to change a whole lot. They’re not going to change their whole philosophy, but there will obviously be some new wrinkles as there always is. Just trying to anticipate what those wrinkles are going to be and try to protect yourself.”

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