Be you: Personality an important piece to Cardinals rookie Kei’Trel Clark’s game

Aug 16, 2023, 5:04 PM | Updated: 5:05 pm

Kei'Trel Clark practices...

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon has no problem letting his cornerbacks play their style of football.

As he said earlier in the training camp, “you can paint, you just have to stay in the lines.”

Playing to your strengths and letting your personality show are encouraged as long as the actions benefit the team.

That’s music to rookie cornerback Kei’Trel Clark’s ears, who knows only one way to be: Himself.

“My main thing is I go by the mantra of, ‘Be you.’ Don’t be nobody else,” he said Wednesday. “I play DB, I got to showcase my emotions. I got to be me at the end of the day.

“Y’all might see me dancing, y’all might see me during the game where everybody locked in and super serious, I might be dancing still. That just helps me at the end of the day. It’s a game, we got to have fun with it.”

A sixth-round pick in this year’s draft, Clark has quickly painted a picture of potential role player for the Cardinals moving forward.

He’s garnered extended looks with the second- and first-team defense since early on into training. In Arizona’s 18-17 win over the Denver Broncos on Friday night, he finished tied with linebacker Cameron Thomas for the team lead in tackles (three) to go along with a pass defensed.

It’s a credit to the young cornerback coming into work each day with the mindset of being his best self and continually competing for a spot on the field.

It also doesn’t hurt the head coach — a former Louisville DB himself — has taken Clark under his wing and gone as far as to call the cornerback his “baby” during the team’s training camp stay at State Farm Stadium.

“That connection is special and I appreciate him for calling me his baby. That’s my guy for sure,” Clark said of Gannon.

“A lot of head coaches, they don’t talk to their players like that, so for him to refer to me as that, that means a whole lot,” the CB added. “JG, the way that he is, makes his players want to go out and run through a wall for him.”

There’s no doubt Clark is excited to be in the position he’s currently in. He’s playing at the highest level of competition in the sport and has a golden opportunity to make an impact with a resetting franchise.

But for all steps forward Clark has taken since arriving to the desert fresh off graduating from Louisville, he knows there is still plenty of work to be done.

His next big test now comes Saturday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

And while we don’t yet know how much Clark might play or what type of game he might have, one thing’s for certain, he’s going to do attack the matchup in his own way.

“Whenever my number is called … just know I’m going to give it my all and I’m going to swag out and be me,” Clark said.

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Be you: Personality an important piece to Cardinals rookie Kei’Trel Clark’s game