Cardinals rookie Michael Wilson out to earn respect

May 16, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 7:23 am

Cardinals WR Michael Wilson during rookie minicamp...

Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Wilson warms up ahead of rookie minicamp on Friday, May 15, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — Respect is earned, not given.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver and 2023 third-round pick Michael Wilson knows that all too well.

And while his NFL surroundings are still relatively new, he’s eager to prove he belongs at the highest level.

“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to doing and putting an emphasis on is just earning the respect of my teammates and earning the respect of the locker room. I think that’s the most important thing,” Wilson said Thursday.

“Just being really deliberate and intentional of everything I do and making sure I can leave a first good impression on the guys in the receiving room, the quarterbacks, running back room, the coaching staff and just doing my best to earn the respect of everybody in the building and kind of stamp why I deserve to be here.”

A common theme over the course of Wilson’s career path has revolved around just that: earning respect.

After a strong sophomore season at Stanford that included five touchdowns and 672 yards, Wilson was eyeing an even better junior year.

Four games into the season, however, and a foot injury would not only derail the wideout’s 2020 but most of the following year as well. Across two seasons, Wilson only played eight games and had 36 receptions for 446 yards and a score to his name.

Opting to return to school for a fifth season to better improve his draft stock, Wilson’s final year at Stanford started out well, with 26 catches, 418 yards and four touchdowns over a six-game span.

In that sixth contest, though, he heard a crack.

Reeling in a catch against Notre Dame last October, the wide receiver broke his collarbone. Just like that, his season — and last shot at stringing together a full season of work — was toast.

But instead of sulking back into the shadow of the injury, Wilson attacked his rehab in hopes of getting one last chance to put something on tape for prospective NFL teams at the 2023 Senior Bowl on top of proving his mentors and former NFL WRs T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Doug Baldwin right.

And when the Jim Nagy and the Senior Bowl eventually came calling, Wilson accomplished just that as one of the game’s standouts.

Now drafted, he’s keeping that same mindset at the highest level, ready to contribute in any way possible for the betterment of the team and earn everything that comes his way.

“They brought me here to make an impact in some way, shape or form,” Wilson said. “I’m not going to put a title on what that’s going to look like. … I believe whatever I get is what I’m going to earn. If that’s being a starting receiver, that’s great. If that’s being a special teams guy, that’s also great.

“Whatever role I carve out for myself, it’s going to be completely dependent on what I do on the practice field and how I carry myself in the meeting room. And like I said, we’re talking about the word ‘earned.’ Everything’s in my control and whatever role that I get is whatever role that I earn.”

Respect earned or not, Wilson’s got his work cut out for him in a wide receivers room that is currently filled to the brim with talent, with DeAndre Hopkins, Hollywood Brown, Rondale Moore, Zach Pascal and Greg Dortch among those featured at the position.

There is, however, the unknown surrounding Hopkins’ future in the desert. For most of the offseason, the belief has been that the wideout has played his final game in Arizona as trade speculation has run rampant.

But recently, there appears to be a switch in gears — at least from the outside — with Hopkins questioning who said he wanted to leave on social media and new general manager Monti Ossenfort not moving the wide receiver during the draft like many believed.

Whether Hopkins is on the team or not, having a guy like Wilson around gives Arizona another pair of hands on the outside to mold within new coordinator Drew Petzing’s offense.

At 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds, Wilson stands taller than Hopkins, Brown, Moore and Dortch and is already showing he can move with the best of them following a strong rookie minicamp on and off the field.

And while Wilson’s willing to jump in and compete for every rep that he can, offensively or otherwise, he’s not oblivious to those ahead of him and what he can pick up along the way as he works his way through Year 1.

“I’ve been a fan of (Brown) since 2016 before he went to Oklahoma,” he said Thursday. “Rondale Moore, that 2019 season was spectacular. … It’s exciting to to able to play with him and obviously DeAndre Hopkins is one of the faces of NFL receivers.

“To be able to share the same locker room from him, to be able to learn from him, I’m really excited to be a sponge to all these guys that have done things in the league that I hope to do myself.”

And if anything, Houshmandzadeh and Baldwin are always just a phone call or text away. Not a bad Plan B at all.

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