Moment not too big for top Cardinals rookies in preseason win over Cowboys

Aug 14, 2021, 12:21 AM | Updated: 1:38 am
Linebacker Zaven Collins #25 of the Arizona Cardinals high fives cornerback Marco Wilson #20 before...
Linebacker Zaven Collins #25 of the Arizona Cardinals high fives cornerback Marco Wilson #20 before the NFL preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at State Farm Stadium on August 13, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE — With a lot of the talk this training camp revolving around a number of Arizona Cardinals rookies, Friday night’s preseason matchup against the Dallas Cowboys held a little more weight than just another exhibition.

And from the results of the Cardinals’ 19-16 win over the Cowboys, a majority of Arizona’s youth answered the call.

“It wasn’t too big for them. I know it’s just a preseason game but there’s fans in the stands and it’s NFL football and it’s playing the Dallas Cowboys,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

“I thought they all went out there and competed. Looked like the effort was good. I’ll have to see the tape to see how clean it was but they played hard.”

It didn’t take long for Zaven Collins to find his name on the box score Friday night, tackling running back Tony Pollard for a two-yard loss on just the second play from scrimmage.

He finished with two tackles and a QB hit before exiting with about eight minutes to play in the second quarter.

Collins has arguably been the most talked about rookie this offseason for the Cardinals, simply from his indoctrination into the organization.

Before even taking an NFL snap, the linebacker was promoted to the role of starting MIKE linebacker over two-year starter Jordan Hicks. The anointment has undoubtedly led to more eyes on Collins as he gets his feet wet.

“For the plays that we got, I feel like we executed pretty efficiently as a defense,” Collins said. “Basically just did our job out there as a whole as a defense. Making that good play at the beginning was obviously a good start and I was really amped up about it.”

While Collins kicked things off with a bang, rookie wide receiver Rondale Moore did just about what everyone thought he would with a handful of pass catchers sidelined.

The wideout pulled in three of his four targets for 23 yards. He also showed off his speed in the running game, adding 16 more yards on two carries.

“It’s the same thing we’ve been seeing in camp. He’s a very diligent worker,” Kingsbury said.

“Since the day he got here, he’s been asking for extra time with [receivers] coach [Shawn] Jefferson and [assistant receivers] coach [Spencer] Whipple and always comes prepared, always takes care of his body. Just does the little things right and it’s paying off for him so far.”

The secondary also saw a pair of rookies take another leap in their NFL journeys.

Getting on the field early on, cornerback Marco Wilson made his presence felt. Heading into halftime, Wilson was tied for the team lead in tackles and finished the night with two passes defensed (a game high).

Wilson’s performance was followed up in the second half by fellow rookie corner Tay Gowan.

Gowan, who is fourth on the depth chart at the position, was seemingly behind the eight ball from the start after not playing last season due to coronavirus concerns regarding his family.

But after two weeks of getting back into football shape, Gowan showed flashes of his potential Friday night.

While he only recorded a tackle and a pass breakup, Gowan was targeted often and held his own for the most part.

“Very competitive, they kept running go routes and he kept running down the field,” Kingsbury said. “He stuck his nose in there on tackles and that was the first football game he’s played in in over a year or whatever it is since he took last year off. It was good for him to get back out there and get in the mix.”


– While the Cowboys were hit with a number of injuries Friday night, the Cardinals weren’t unscathed in that area. Arizona was hit with two injuries to safety Chris Banjo (hamstring) and running back Jonathan Ward (ankle) before the preseason dust settled. They did not return.

– Kicker Matt Prater was a perfect 4-for-4, sealing Arizona’s win with a 47-yard field goal as time expired.

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