New era notes: Cardinals QBs remain mum on Week 1 starter
Sep 6, 2023, 9:15 PM
TEMPE — As Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon put it Wednesday, “I ain’t telling you anything” when it comes to which quarterback will get the Week 1 starting nod against the Washington Commanders.
That thinking isn’t just at the top, either. The two signal callers in question, newly added Josh Dobbs and rookie Clayton Tune, are not giving much more than their head coach days before the team heads to Washington.
“I’m not sure yet, that’s a JG question,” Dobbs said after practice on Wednesday while adding he feels like he’s picked up the offense well.
“There’s a lot going on, but I just focus on what I can control and try to be the best player every day and worry about what I can do to help the team,” Tune added.
That’s not to say, however, that there isn’t a frontrunner between the two, with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reporting Wednesday that Dobbs is expected to start with just a handful of practices and zero training camp and preseason snaps with the team.
It makes a whole lot of sense given the fifth-rounder used in acquiring the QB in addition to his familiarity with offensive coordinator Drew Petzing and quarterbacks coach Israel Woolfork from their time in Cleveland together.
And despite the short time in the desert, he’s already gaining the respect from his peers thanks to his work ethic, football knowledge and overall character.
“I think he’s a great person, player, quarterback,” Will Hernandez said Wednesday. “I’m excited. I’m ready to go out there and block my [expletive] off for him. Everybody in the room is behind him, everybody in the room is behind all our quarterbacks.
“We take it to heart to be able to go out there and be in front of these guys and we’re going to give all we got to give them the best chance to shine. When they shine, we all shine.”
For rookie wide receiver and projected Week 1 starter Michael Wilson, Dobbs brings an added level of comfortability just based on how he carries himself and his detail-oriented mindset.
“Every single interaction is very professional and I love having a guy in any huddle that has those characteristics,” Wilson said Wednesday. “It makes you feel comfortable as a receiver when your quarterback back there is extremely, extremely invested in putting a good product out there. He embodies all that.”
Wilson wasn’t the only rookie to see his name pop up as a starter on the Week 1 depth chart, with offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. and cornerback Kei’Trel Clark also getting the nod.
It’s great honor and a testament to blood sweat and tears Clark has put in, but he’ll be the first to say there is still work to be had.
“I’m at the top but I feel like I ain’t at the top,” the rookie CB said Wednesday. “There’s still work to be done and I’m at the bottom of the totem pole. I feel like I’m now working my way back up. That’s my mindset.
“I’m not content at all. I’m ready to keep going, I’m hungry.”
“Ready for that first pop”
Nerves are going to run high for a whole lot of rookies when the lights come on for the first time in Week 1.
That’s a given.
One way Wilson plans to get over them? Taking a hit.
“I’m just ready for that first hit, the first pass, just the first play just to kind of settle the nerves and get in the rhythm of playing football,” Wilson said.
“I’m just excited for that first pop.”
Remember to breathe
While Wilson will be looking for that first hit come Sunday, his head coach will have his eye to the sky for his season-opening reminder that it’s go time.
“I tell the players, I joke about it, but it’s a funny because it’s true kind of thing,” Gannon said. “The planes flying over before the national anthem goes, that’s always kind of my favorite thing about opening day. For whatever reason it surfaces emotions in me I guess and I’ve got to make sure that I breathe.
“I think that’s always a cool thing, but every opening day is a little bit different. It’s why it’s the greatest sport in the world in my opinion. The NFL is the NFL for a reason and opening day is fun.”
A lot of us have birthday traditions from over the years. Maybe you go to your favorite restaurant or hit up the local golf course for a round.
Or maybe you get woken up by a Mariachi band like Hernandez did for his birthday.
“It’s a little tradition that in Mexican culture that whoever’s birthday it is, you bring them a Mariachi band to sing some songs and just enjoy the vibes and good times.
“I wasn’t (expecting it). I woke up to the music. I was kind of pissed but also happy at the same time.”