Cardinals notebook: TE Stephen Anderson leaning on his versatility
GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals’ tight ends room is as stacked as it’s ever been.
Zach Ertz is looking to pick up where he left after the joining the team midseason last year, Maxx Williams is back among his teammates following a promising season cut short due to injury and rookie Trey McBride certainly looks the part early on.
So where does that leave a guy like Stephen Anderson on a team that only kept three tight ends on the 53-man roster to start 2021?
“I kind of rest my hat on my versatility,” Anderson said Wednesday. “For those that seen last year, I played fullback a lot. I know this offense typically doesn’t have a fullback but if Kliff decides to then we can.
“Along with my ability to block in space, block in line, line up out wide, line up in the backfield as well as my contributions on special teams, I feel like I have a lane of my own in a sense.”
The six-year veteran looks to carve out a role in Arizona after spending the past three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. Primarily used as a special teamer, Anderson recorded 271 yards and a touchdown on 24 catches (30 targets).
But with injuries and rest days limiting the trio of Ertz, Williams and McBride this training camp, Anderson has gotten more opportunities to show of his abilities in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.
Last Wednesday was one of Anderson’s best, with the tight end hauling in a pair of red-zone touchdowns from quarterback Colt McCoy.
“He’s gotten a ton of reps, got a ton of targets and has made the most of it,” Kingsbury said. “I hadn’t seen him utilized as much as we’re utilizing him in the passing game, but he’s stepped up and has done a nice job with it.
“Comes to work every day, knows what to do, physical. We’ve been really pleased with what we’ve seen so far.”
The next step now for Anderson is to put it all together Friday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
A tale of two Cincys
Veteran wide receiver A.J. Green and rookie outside linebacker Myjai Sanders will return to their old stomping grounds when the team travels to Cincinnati this week.
For Sanders, the matchup against the Bengals carries more weight than just the first NFL preseason game of his career. It’s a return back to where he spent his college days. It’s also where the young outside linebacker became a father.
“I really just look at it as just showing the Bearcats that it’s possible to do something and have the young kids looking up to me asking questions and stuff,” Sanders said Monday.
“Another big reason (why I’m excited to return to Cincinnati) is because that’s where my child was born at. I’d love for her to see me for the first time in a uniform.”
For Green, it’s much more of a business trip.
“I played 10 years there, 10 seasons, had a great time,” he said. “Still got some real close friends who are a part of that organization. It’ll be good to see them, but really no emotions right now (on returning to Cincinnati).”
– Wednesday’s practice saw a large portion of projected starters given the day off for rest and/or recovery. It also allowed those playing Friday to get ample practice reps before heading to Cincinnati.
– Cardinals TE Zach Ertz is coming along with his calf issue, per Kingsbury.
– Kicker Matt Prater celebrated his 38th birthday on Wednesday. He got a nice surprise from his friends and family after practice.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 10, 2022