New era notes: Pat Tillman’s impact on Cardinals not lost by new regime
Sep 22, 2023, 5:30 PM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Clayton Tune looked different running out of the team’s practice bubble this week.
In place of the usual No. 15 plastered on his practice jersey, the rookie appeared out of the revolving doors donning a special camo-patterned No. 40.
#AZCardinals rookie QB Clayton Tune is rocking No. 40 in honor of Pat Tillman during practice today after being named scout team player of the week for his efforts last week. pic.twitter.com/Aqzyr1jelU
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) September 20, 2023
And no, it wasn’t a rookie assignment or anything close to it. Instead, it was recognition of Tune earning the “Look Team Player of the Week” award from his coaching staff.
But more than anything, it was an honor and a nod to the late Pat Tillman, one Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon was more than willing to implement this regular season.
“Pat Tillman and what he stands for is a huge part of our organization,” Gannon said Friday. “(Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort and owner Michael Bidwill) talked about it and I always wanted to do something with that, because it’s such an important piece of preparation for all three phases.
“They were excited about it. You’ll see that jersey bouncing around every week.”
Tune will finish out the week of practice with No. 40 before passing it on to the next standout scout team member. He could also earn the right to rock it for a second straight week.
We’ll shall find out Wednesday who moved the needle the most in Week 3.
No change for JT
Losing safety Budda Baker this week to an injured reserve stint brought on by a hamstring injury was a tough blow for the room, let alone the team as a whole.
With Baker sidelined through Week 6, Jalen Thompson will have to carry even more of the load with K’Von Wallace and Andre Chachere getting more time on task.
Thompson, however, is embracing the challenge ahead and not getting too high or too low on Baker’s injury status.
“I feel like I’m already in that same role,” Thompson said Friday. “Just stay doing what I’m doing, stay being a leader and I feel like we’ll be fine.
“It’s time for other guys to step up with Budda hurt and have no drop off. Play at the same level we’ve been playing at.”
Making an impact behind the scenes
Kelvin Beachum went from the only Cardinals offensive lineman to start every game last season to being Arizona’s backup tackle behind rookie Paris Johnson Jr. and D.J. Humphries, who has yet to take a regular season snap in 2023 due to injury and role.
But while his status as one of Arizona’s starters on the field has diminished, his impact off of it cannot be understated.
“He’s an unbelievable asset to the room,” offensive line coach Klayton Adams said Friday. “His maturity, his football intelligence, he’s a very humble guy.
“He really does want to help guys get better and he always makes sure he’s prepared. He’s invaluable to us.”