CARDINALS CORNER

New era notes: Zach Ertz still has boxes to check ahead of Week 1

Aug 30, 2023, 4:33 PM | Updated: 4:53 pm

Zach Ertz looks on...

Zach Ertz #86 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on before the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz has stated time and time again while rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered last season that his goal was to return to action by Week 1.

There’s no denying the steady progress he’s made since going down in mid-November. That was made evident about two weeks ago with his removal from the physically unable to perform list.

The hope for a Week 1 return is there for the veteran tight end. Right there with it is the realization there is still work to be done while the season opener is closing in.

“I don’t think it’s for certain by any means,” Ertz said after practice Wednesday. “There are still some things I need to go through, I need to see how I recover, practice consistent days in a row. It’s not something where it’s just, ‘OK, Zach, go play.’ I got to earn the trust of my teammates and coaches.

“I don’t expect them to just plug me in there and say, ‘This is the Zach from the past 10 years and he’s going to be the same in Year 11.’ I look forward to proving myself each and every day, whether that’s Game 1, Game 3, whenever I’m out there I expect to be a difference maker.”

A tough blow

While Ertz is eyeing his return — whenever that may be — the same can’t be said for rookie center Jon Gaines II.

The backup option was lost for the season after being placed on the injured reserve with a knee injury suffered in the team’s preseason finale win over the Minnesota Vikings.

“It’s tough. He’d done a great job. He was definitely going to have a role for us,” Gannon said. “That’s part of the business unfortunately. I talk about the sacrifice these guys make and you get an injury like that and (you’re) not going to be able to play it’s tough.

“He’s got a good frame of mind. He’ll bounce back, he’ll be resilient and he’ll be a player for us for years to come.”

A battle is upon us

There’s a quarterback battle taking place in Tempe this week and next as rookie Clayton Tune and newcomer Josh Dobbs vie for the Week 1 starting nod.

It’s a tight window before the season opener. Every practice rep matters.

So what’s Gannon looking for the most as next week and half progresses?

“Command and production and their ability to run the huddle and make plays and operate in the way we want to operate that we have to operate to give ourselves a chance to win,” the head coach said.

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