Cards notebook: Kingsbury’s Sunday plans, Kirk’s return to AT&T Stadium

Oct 17, 2020, 2:45 PM | Updated: 3:07 pm

(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)...

(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

It’s a very commonplace response: When asked about a future matchup, a coach or player tends to say they’re locked into the next game and haven’t started thinking about the one coming the following week.

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is altering his approach without a game Sunday.

As the Cardinals watch their peers play Sunday football ahead of the Arizona and Dallas Cowboys Monday Night Football matchup, Kingsbury is going to look ahead to the Seahawks.

“It worked out, knowing we have a short week, that we’ll be doing a lot of prep Sunday and Monday to get ready for them. Players will be off Tuesday and then we’ll rock and roll on Wednesday,” he said. “First one of those that I’ve experienced, so just trying to get ahead Sunday and Monday onto Seattle.”

This doesn’t mean Kingsbury is turning his focus away from the Cowboys. In his first Monday Night Football appearance as an NFL head coach, he feels the need to get a kick-start on the next opponent.

The Cardinals coaching staff has some catch-up to do simply because of scheduling.

The Seahawks, who will travel to Glendale to play Arizona on Oct. 25, are coming off a bye week. They get a whole two weeks to prepare for the Cardinals, while Arizona players will still have their focus on the Cowboys on Monday and then be off Tuesday.

Some early prep work this week is necessitated.

Christian Kirk returns to AT&T Stadium

While attending Texas A&M, wide receiver Christian Kirk played three games at AT&T Stadium.

Kirk’s fourth game of his college career was the annual TAMU matchup against Arkansas at the Cowboys’ gargantuan home field.

If the nation hadn’t noticed him in the first few games, he grabbed attention in Game 4. Kirk absolutely dominated, scoring two touchdowns — including the game-winner in overtime — to cap an eight-catch, 173-yard receiving day.

The next year, Kirk only had three catches for 25 yards, but he did score a fourth-quarter touchdown as part of the Texas A&M route of the Razorbacks.

His final game took the cake. He had three total touchdowns, each more exciting than the last: The first was an 81-yard reception. The second was a 100-yard kickoff return. The final was the game-winner in overtime, a sort of deja vu from his first game there as a college player.

He hopes he can have the same impact in his first game at AT&T Stadium as a pro.

“It’ll bring back a lot of memories. It’s a great stadium, a great environment,” Kirk said. “The scene of how big the stadium is, the turf, there’s nothing like it. And to play there on Monday night, my personal first Monday Night Football game, it’ll be a fun moment.”

Finding energy without Chandler Jones

Over the past week, Cardinals players and coaches have talked about how the team can’t replace Pro Bowler Chandler Jones; they all need to step up and play better in an effort to overcome his absence.

But there’s another part of Jones’ value that isn’t replicable by one single player: his presence in the huddle.

“More so than anything, Chandler’s personality — he’s goofy, he does a good job of keeping the defense loose in the huddle, lots of jokes and stuff like that — I think we miss more his energy, and just laughing with him, that sort of thing right now,” defensive lineman Corey Peters said.

At AT&T Stadium, that’ll be felt quite a bit. The Cowboys allow 25,000 fans at the stadium, which will give Arizona the most real crowd noise it has heard all season long.

“When you make a play, there is no joy from the crowd,” Peters said about the empty and near-empty stadiums. “I think it’ll be interesting, more like what we’re used to … I’m excited to kind of get down there.

“Obviously playing in Dallas, America’s team, that brings a different level of excitement, a lot of eyes on the game. I think it’s a great opportunity for the U.S. to kind of get a real good look at our team.”

Arizona Cardinals

(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)...

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Cards notebook: Kingsbury’s Sunday plans, Kirk’s return to AT&T Stadium