Cardinals WR A.J. Green trying to find his place in Arizona’s offense
Sep 23, 2021, 3:45 PM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals wide receiver A.J. Green had to wait until Week 10 to record his first touchdown of the season last year with the Cincinnati Bengals.
It took him two weeks in a Cardinals uniform to find pay dirt in 2021.
Garnering six targets a game, Green is proving why the Cardinals brought him in this offseason by stretching the field and giving quarterback Kyler Murray another set of more than capable hands to operate with.
It’s just the beginning for Green, who gets more and more comfortable in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense with each week.
“I think as the season goes on just learning the offense even more and them putting me in different spots and moving guys around and little things like that [will help me find my place in the offense] I think,” Green said after practice Thursday.
“For me, I just continue to work and make the plays whenever my number’s called.”
One area that’s relatively new to Green has been just how much the Cardinals emphasize scrambling, having played with stationary signal caller Andy Dalton for nine years in Cincinnati.
The team’s success speaks for itself, with Murray dialing up scoring throws while on the run over the past two weeks.
“Everything [with Dalton] was off timing. He’s gonna throw the ball to a spot and that’s where I’m gonna be,” Green said.
“With K1 it’s a little different. Sometimes you just gotta play backyard football, because he can create. You think he’s getting a sack and he’s gonna spin out of it, crawl out of it and throw the ball down the field so just gotta be ready.”
Green on Hopkins’ rib injury: “He’ll be fine”
Hopkins missed his second day of practice Thursday with a rib injury, leaving some to speculate if the wide receiver will play in the team’s Week 3 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Green is among those not concerned with his fellow wideout’s practice status.
“Hop don’t miss games,” Green said Thursday. “He’ll be fine.”
The first-year Cardinal has a point.
In Hopkins’ nine-year career, only twice did he miss a game.
Defenses forced to play honest against DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
The Cardinals have spaced the ball out well over the first two games of the season.
While DeAndre Hopkins paces the team in receiving touchdowns (3), rookie wideout Rondale Moore sits atop the depth chart in targets (13), catches (11) and yards (182).
Green is tied with Hopkins for the second-most targets on the team with 12.
Entering play Thursday, Christian Kirk has the second-highest Pro Football Focus grade among NFL wide receivers with an 87.5, only trailing Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp (90.7).
The amount of attention each of the wideouts is seeing from Murray is a problem for opposing defenses, especially with having to stay honest with a guy like Hopkins on the outside.
The numbers are always nice to look at, but the biggest one for Arizona’s primary pass catchers is the zero in the loss column and in the drama department.
“It’s big when you can spread the ball around,” Green said. “We know some games Hop’s gonna get a lot of targets because he might be 1-on-1. Some weeks it’s gonna be C-Kirk, some weeks it’s gonna be me or Rondale. Like I said, we gotta continue to work.
“One thing about our room, [wide receivers] coach [Shawn] Jefferson, he always preaches ‘together’ and I feel like that receiving room we’re together. Like we don’t [expletive] about balls, not getting balls. We don’t do none of that. … We got a special group.”
– Green on Moore’s early success:
“We knew what Rondale was from training camp. He’s so diverse, he can do everything. Great hands, run routes, put him in the back field. He can do everything. He has a mismatch every time we put him in the game and we have a lot of things in there for him.”