CARDINALS CORNER

Michael Wilson happy for adversity faced in Year 1, ready to play ‘positive role’ in Kyler Murray’s story

Jan 12, 2024, 2:32 PM

TEMPE — The first half of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson’s rookie season was more than promising.

After standing out throughout offseason work and training camp, the WR quickly found himself in a meaningful role offensively, recording 25 catches for 401 yards and two touchdowns through Week 8 of the season.

Then ahead of Arizona’s Week 9 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, Wilson found himself on the injury report for the first time in his NFL career due to a shoulder injury.

For a player who watched injuries impact his college career at Stanford, and his NFL Draft stock, it was about the last thing Wilson needed for his confidence and momentum in Year 1.

He occupied space on the injury report for the six weeks with the shoulder and a neck issue, missing four games in the process. His return to action didn’t represent his earlier successes, either, with Wilson posting zero catches on seven targets against the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears combined.

The rookie stayed with it, though, eventually getting more time on task with quarterback Kyler Murray and ending Year 1 on a high note behind 10 catches (12 targets) for 130 yards and a touchdown across the final two games of the year.

While the season wasn’t exactly how Wilson dreamt it up, he’s glad for the challenges he faced throughout his first NFL season.

“First season I think was good for the most part. I’m happy I experienced some adversity,” Wilson said Monday. “Going into the next couple of years, I think that’s what I’m going to expect from now on, to expect some type of adversity throughout the season. From an individual standpoint, the season started really good for me and then battled injury and came back and wasn’t playing at a high level those first couple games. I’m happy I was able to finish strong.

“I think that’s a time for you to grow and learn,” the wideout added about facing adversity. “It’s a time that people in the locker room can figure out a lot about you. I think people’s true character comes out when they battle through difficult times. I think I was consistent in my personality and consistent in my process and just kept leaning on my teammates, leaning on my coaches and the training staff and just had to stay at it. I’m just happy results finally showed up the last couple of weeks.”

Given the amount of reps Wilson got in this past season, there’s no doubt he’ll have a meaningful role for years to come within a wide receivers room that appears headed toward a revamp.

No. 1 wide receiver Hollywood Brown will test free agency. Where the Cardinals stand in the 2024 NFL Draft, there’s a real possibility Arizona nabs Marvin Harrison Jr. or one of the other two top receiving prospects in Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze with a top-10 pick.

But until the team reconvenes later this year, it’s all about using some of the off time to reflect on the season and going on vacation for the first time in a while before ramping back up for Year 2.

And when that time comes, Wilson will get back at it at full strength, something he hasn’t been able to say in recent offseasons.

“It does feel good to be healthy going into the offseason,” Wilson said. “It’s been a couple years since I’ve been fully healthy, so I’m excited for that.”

Michael Wilson looking to play ‘positive role’ in Kyler Murray’s story

Wilson managed to play just five of the eight games quarterback Kyler Murray appeared in following his return from a torn ACL suffered last season. The end result of their time together was 13 catches on 25 targets for 164 yards and a touchdown.

But despite the limited time together, Wilson picked up a lot from his franchise QB and embracedthe pressure of performing at a high level.

“I learned he’s super talented. To come back from an ACL after being out for 12 months and being expected to play at a really high level, that’s a hard task to handle,” Wilson said. “But he did it with poise, he did it with confidence and leadership. I tip my hat to him.

“He’s someone that I feel extremely responsible to play at a high level for him, because I’m playing for his legacy. Being the Heisman Trophy winner, being the No. 1 pick, being a franchise quarterback and signing a big contract, he’s got a lot of responsibility. I want to make sure I’m playing at a really high level so I can play a positive role in his story.”

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