Cardinals WR Christian Kirk ready to let his play ‘speak for itself’ in 2021

Jun 30, 2021, 11:39 AM | Updated: 11:41 am

Wide receiver Christian Kirk #13 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a reception during a NFL team train...

Wide receiver Christian Kirk #13 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a reception during a NFL team training camp at University of State Farm Stadium on August 17, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

While the talk of the town was around DeAndre Hopkins’ stellar first year with the Arizona Cardinals, teammate Christian Kirk still made his mark in the team’s offense in 2020.

Despite seeing fewer targets (79), receptions (48) and receiving yards (621) than the year prior, Kirk still managed to tie Hopkins for the team-lead in receiving touchdowns with six.

The Cardinals clearly focused in on Hopkins more times than not, as he more than doubled Kirk’s target share last season, with the first-year Cardinal catching 115 of his 160 targets for more than 1,400 yards.

Still, that production dip has left some to wonder about Kirk’s ability to be that every-down threat. It also led the Cardinals to reevaluate their wide receivers room, adding A.J. Green to the mix this offseason, while letting go of wide receivers coach David Raih.

The additions haven’t changed Kirk’s mentality.

“I think there’s no lack of motivation from me,” Kirk told Around the NFL on Wednesday. “I know there’s some doubters that count me out, I’m ready to go out there and let my play speak for itself.

“I’ve put all the work in that needs to be put in up to this point and just ready to get out there and have my best season yet.”

While he may be competing with his new teammate for targets this season, Kirk understands just how valuable it is to be surrounded by veterans like Hopkins, Green and Larry Fitzgerald since entering the league in 2018.

“I know I’m very fortunate to be in the room … with three Hall of Famers, all future Hall of Famers in my opinion,” Kirk said. “Just being around those guys day in and day out, all three of them are very different and very unique in their personalities, the way they go about their routine and even their play on the field.

“So I’m just looking for little ways to pick up little things that they do. I think the biggest thing is on Sunday. Those guys are playing at the highest level of anybody out there and so it just naturally raises your level of performance, trying to match that intensity and that level of play just helps me out week in and week out.”

The Cardinals didn’t just turn their attention to the wideouts, either, as the front office hit the grindstone hard this offseason with additions like J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson to bolster the roster.

It certainly hasn’t been lost on Kirk, who understands the importance of this year with the roster Arizona has compiled.

“I think it’s now or never for us,” Kirk said. “That’s the attitude in the locker room. We finally feel like we have all the pieces to put it together and really make a push for the playoffs and for a championship. I know guys in the locker aren’t expecting anything less than that.

“We know what opportunity we have at hand, and we know we have to be better. Since coach Kingsbury’s been there, we have gotten better every year. … We’ve got a young group of core guys that have been through a lot, all the ups and downs. We know the opportunity is here, and we have to rise to the occasion, and we have the right guys and the right leadership to do it.”

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