Cardinals TE Trey McBride is no stranger to Broncos, Mile High Stadium
TEMPE — Cardinals rookie tight end Trey McBride is heading back to where his football dream began when Arizona travels to Colorado to take on the Denver Broncos in Week 15.
Hailing from the area and playing college ball at Colorado State, McBride is sure to see more than a handful of those close to him in the same stands he once sat in as a Broncos fan on Sunday.
This time, however, there will be no rooting for the home team on McBride’s part, who enters the tilt as Arizona’s starting tight end with Zach Ertz done for the season with a knee injury.
It’s an opportunity he does not take for granted.
“Obviously, you never want anybody to get hurt,” the tight end said Thursday. “You never want that for anybody. But to have the opportunity to play as much as I have, it’s been very surreal. I’m very honored.
“I feel very blessed, but also, I feel a huge responsibility that my teammates expect me to take over exactly how Zach did and expect me to perform at a high level like Zach had been. It’s a huge responsibility for me and I feel very honored to be put in that position.”
McBride has been thrown into the fire in recent weeks in the aftermath of Ertz’s injury.
After seeing no more than 52% of available offensive snaps over his first eight games played, the rookie has recorded at least 73% of reps over the past four outings.
Despite the added playing time, McBride has yet to completely fill the void Ertz left behind in the offense. While the young TE has improved his blocking abilities, he has lacked in the play-making department.
In 12 games played, the 2021 John Mackey Award winner has just 12 catches (17 targets) for 74 yards.
This past week, however, was one of the tight end’s best and something to build off of.
Starting his fourth-straight game, McBride set a new season high in receiving yards with 28. He also took an absolute shot while making one of his three receptions in the Monday Night Football loss to the New England Patriots.
Firmly believe Trey McBride will be a playmaker for the Cardinals. pic.twitter.com/O3tZe67WMO
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) December 13, 2022
Even with the hit, Week 14 was a real confidence booster for McBride, who held onto the ball and was given another “Welcome to the NFL” moment.
“I think that hit was one of the hardest hits I’ve taken and to be not expecting it like I was was something that was very — caught me off guard. … I was able to hold on to it, which is very cool, but that was definitely a moment that I’ll remember getting hit like that for sure.”
While losing Ertz and his 406 yards and team-leading four touchdowns only stunts the offense even further, it also provides a silver lining in that it gives McBride extended starter reps on a regular basis as he works to become another weapon head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray can trust in the offense.
There’s still plenty to nail down for McBride, but with four games left in the season and sitting atop the depth chart, the tight end has a golden opportunity to be one of the bright spots down the final stretch of the year.
“There still will be (bumps in the road), but it’s expeditated his progress, there’s no doubt,” Kingsbury said on Friday when asked about McBride seeing more playing time. “You can see him running faster, particularly when he’s running routes, knowing what to do.
“The blocking stuff, protections, run game, that’s going to take some time, but he’s game to do it. He’s a physical player. I’ve really been impressed with how the game has slowed down so far and hopefully he continues to take strides through the end of this thing.”