ARIZONA CARDINALS

James Conner up for the challenge of college teammate Aaron Donald

Oct 2, 2021, 7:45 AM
James Conner #6 celebrates with DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals after a touchdown duri...
James Conner #6 celebrates with DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals after a touchdown during the game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Cardinals defeated the Titans 38-13. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

TEMPE — The Cardinals are only three games in, but running back James Conner is proving to be just what the team had hoped for when Arizona signed him this offseason.

The running back has brought a physical presence to the team’s ground game as he continues to get a feel for what head coach Kliff Kingsbury is running in the desert.

Sunday’s 31-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was a solid example of Conner’s progression in the offense, scoring the first two touchdowns of his Cardinals’ career to go along with 46 yards on 11 carries. He also made an impressive one-handed catch for 10 yards.

It’s a testament to his work ethic.

“Just straight workman’s attitude each and every day,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Friday. “Doesn’t say anything, just goes to work. Practices hard, plays hard. I think he’s running really physical, running downhill.

“I think he’s still, obviously, getting accustomed to how we do things here in our offense and our style of play but I thought he really had a nice game last week and I expect him just to get more and more comfortable.”

That physical presence will be needed against a tough Rams defense, headlined by defensive lineman Aaron Donald.

While it’ll mark the first time Conner has gone up against Donald, he knows full well what to expect in the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year having spent a year together (2013) during their college days at Pittsburgh. That season Donald made 28.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles, career highs as a Panther.

Conner and those around him knew right away they were playing with greatness. That’ll happen when it’s a challenge to run inside each and every practice due to Donald’s ability to get in the backfield in a hurry.

“He’s a big brother to me so I’m just looking forward to just playing versus him,” Conner said Friday. “Everybody knows who he is, his accolades. It’s no secret, he comes to play every game.

“It’ll be exciting, it’ll be the first time getting to play versus him so it’s pretty special. I know he’s gonna bring it, try to slam me, try to all types of different things so I’m coming with it too.”

As for any insider tips on how to block one of the best defenders of our generation?

“Just be ready,” Conner said with a smile. “I’ll be there to help.”

EXTRA POINT

– Offensive line coach and run game coordinator Sean Kugler on Conner:

“Physically tough, mentally tough, outstanding. Gets the tough yards, some of the runs he made down there [Sunday] on the goal line, there’s a million bodies in there. He’s one of these kids that’s just not gonna be denied. What a great mentality, what a great kid. Love working with him.”

Life Changer Loans
Cardinals DL J.J. Watt chats with head coach Kliff Kingsbury during practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury looks on during practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals LB Jordan Hicks leads the way during practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals DC Vance Joseph works with the defense during practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals CB Rasul Douglas runs through drills during practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals S Chris Banjo runs through drills during practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals CB Tay Gowan runs through drills during practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals S Jalen Thompson runs through drills during practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals CB Robert Alford runs through drills during practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins warms up ahead of practice Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Cardinals QB Colt McCoy jogs to the practice field Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Comments

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

Paris Johnson Jr. #77 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Northwestern Wildcats during...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals nab OL Paris Johnson in Brugler’s 1st mock draft for 2023

The Athletic's Dane Brugler graced us with his first mock of the year on Wednesday and has the Cardinals taking OSU's Paris Johnson at No. 7.
21 hours ago
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals is congratul...
Arizona Sports

Kyler Murray calls out Patrick Peterson for condemning comments made on podcast

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray let his frustration with former teammate Patrick Peterson calling him out on a podcast known.
21 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andre Baccellia (82) pulls in a pass for a touchdown in front of Ci...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals re-sign WR Andre Baccellia to practice squad

The Arizona Cardinals re-signed wide receiver Andre Baccellia to the team's practice squad on Wednesday morning.
21 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals S Jalen Thompson points during practice on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyl...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals’ Jalen Thompson left off ESPN’s under-25 ranking

Safety Jalen Thompson has been a constant within the Arizona Cardinals defense over the past couple seasons.
21 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray looks on during practice on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyl...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals enter Week 13 with minute chance at making 2022 NFL playoffs

Mathematically, the Arizona Cardinals somehow still have a sliver of postseason hope remaining in the 2022 season.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

Out of office: Arizona Cardinals embark on bye week later than most

After 12 weeks of ups and downs, the Arizona Cardinals get a reprieve from all the minutia that comes with the NFL schedule.
3 days ago
James Conner up for the challenge of college teammate Aaron Donald