GM Keim: Number of new Cardinals impressed in 1st preseason action

Aug 9, 2019, 10:55 AM | Updated: 5:05 pm

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (19) is hit by Los Angeles Chargers defensive back ...

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (19) is hit by Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Brandon Facyson during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

There’s no doubt about it.

Kyler Murray looked sharp in his preseason debut.

Connecting on all of his throws, though one was ruled incomplete — more on that later — the rookie signal caller looked at home in the team’s new-look offense.

But while the early returns on the game have been primarily focused the QB, Murray wasn’t the only Cardinal to show his worth Thursday night.

With the dust now settled from the team’s first preseason win, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim touched on a few standouts while joining Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“There’s the good, the bad and the ugly like you have in every preseason game,” Keim said Friday morning. “I think the one thing I was excited about was the way our football team competed, and some of the young guys I felt did a lot of good things last night throughout the entire game.”

One of those young guys was rookie wide receiver KeeSean Johnson.

Although he was the culprit on Murray’s “incompletion” — Johnson stepped out of bounds and didn’t establish himself before catching the pass — the rookie wideout impressed the GM in other facets of his game.

“Unfortunately, KeeSean stepped out of bounds, but the one interesting thing as I watched the tape this morning, KeeSean ran a phenomenal route,” Keim said. “His ability to start and stop with suddeness — he stuck his foot in the ground and the corner drifted, fell and stumbled about eight yards.

“He ran a great route but unfortunately stepped out of bounds.”

The sixth-round pick out of Fresno State seems to have gained trust with his quarterbacks early on as he was targeted four times in Thursday’s win, tied for second most on the team. He reeled in two of the four, recording 29 yards, highlighted by a 23-yard reception.

The rookie’s outing, even with the misstep, is another positive for Johnson, who has seen considerable time with the first team, jostling for reps with vets Kevin White, Trent Sherfield, Damiere Byrd and Pharoh Cooper.

Learning from an All-Pro like Larry Fitzgerald only boosts Johnson’s status with the team as he grows into an NFL player.

Heading down to the trenches, another rookie caught Keim’s eye.

“The one young guy who I thought really looked good was Lamont Gaillard, our later-round pick out of the University of Georgia,” Keim said of the guard/center. “He’s been very impressive in camp and last night I thought he played extremely well.”

Gaillard’s durability could be a big factor on an offensive line that has already dealt with injuries this season.

In three years as a starter at Georgia, Gaillard played in at least 13 games a season, with his most being in 2017 (15 games).

Gaillard could also use his tools to improve the run game, as he was a part of an O-line that had four different 1,000-yard rushers.

But what about some of the other Cardinals newcomers on the line?

“For the most part, I felt the guys had a pretty clean pocket,” Keim said of the offensive line as a whole. “There’s no secret that we’ve got to stay healthy up front. I do like the physicality that [J.R] Sweezy and Marcus Gilbert have brought to our offensive line.”

They may not be rookies, but the two linemen are getting their feet wet in a new system under head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Much like Gaillard, Sweezy’s ability to stay on the field could pay dividends in an offense looking to take the NFL by storm.

In six seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Sweezy started in 78 contests, playing in a total of 88 games.

On the other side of the coin, Gilbert represents an injury-prone vet looking to prove he can make it a full season. In eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the starting right tackle has two full seasons under his belt. The final two with the Steelers, however, saw the lineman play in just 12 games.

But from 2013-16, Gilbert started and played in at least 13 games a year.

Granted it’s early on in preseason, but the play of some of the new faces on the team has been promising as Arizona looks to turn the page from 2018.



Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Trey McBride taking TEs room under his wing...

Tyler Drake

Trey McBride taking Cardinals’ TEs room under his wing early on in Year 2

After getting his feet wet as a rookie, second-year pro Trey McBride is adding more onto his plate of responsibilities.

4 days ago

BJ Ojulari...

Arizona Sports

ESPN’s Clay projects Cardinals rookie pass rusher BJ Ojulari’s sack total

Ranking nine of the top rookie pass rushers, ESPN's Mike Clay has BJ Ojulari coming in tied for the fifth-most sacks among the draft class.

3 days ago

Zach Allen #94 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after sacking Mac Jones #10 of the New England P...

Alex Weiner

Ex-Cardinals DL Zach Allen says Vance Joseph a major reason he joined Broncos

Zach Allen joined Vance Joseph with the Denver Broncos this offseason after they both spent four years with the Arizona Cardinals.

2 days ago

DJ Humphries, Arizona Cardinals...

Kevin Zimmerman

PFF: If there’s a strength for 2023 Cardinals, look to the O-line

While there are some questions about the Arizona Cardinals' offensive line, it's a strong position group compared to the rest of the roster.

2 days ago

DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates with fans after Arizona defeated the Chicag...

Arizona Sports

Bills? Cowboys? ESPN lists best fits for DeAndre Hopkins after Cardinals release

DeAndre Hopkins now hits the market after his release from the Cardinals, and ESPN's Jeremy Fowler picked out the best potential fits. 

3 days ago

Zach Pascal...

Tyler Drake

Zach Pascal ready to bring out best of Cardinals in reunion with Gannon

Cardinals wide receiver Zach Pascal and head coach Jonathan Gannon already have a bond as they embark on Year 1 in the desert.

3 days ago

GM Keim: Number of new Cardinals impressed in 1st preseason action