CARDINALS CORNER

‘I can always get better:’ Cardinals’ Zay Jones all for learning new things as he acclimates in Arizona

May 21, 2024, 3:49 PM

TEMPE – With seven seasons, 104 games and 67 starts under his belt, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Zay Jones has a good grasp of what it takes to be successful at the pro level.

But for a veteran wideout entering Year 8 with a new team, Jones is approaching even the most mundane parts of offseason workouts like it’s his first time taking an NFL practice field.

“I don’t think I’m anywhere close to some established-type player,” Jones said Monday after the first day of Arizona’s organized team activities. “I always want to have the mindset that I always can get better.

“I was talking to Joe Theismann during the Super Bowl and I asked him, ‘What’s one piece of advice that you can give me?’ He said, ‘You can always learn something new.’ I took that to heart. Treat it as if you’re learning something new for the first time.”

Whatever approach he takes, Jones instantly boosts a Cardinals wide receivers room that is looking noticeably different from just a year prior.

Across seven seasons and three teams, the versatile wide receiver reeled in 287 catches on 496 targets for 3,028 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s scored at least five touchdowns in a season twice and isn’t that far removed from an 832-yard effort with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022.

He also gives a young core of wide receivers, highlighted by Marvin Harrison Jr. and Michael Wilson, another veteran voice within the locker room.

“With Zay, you quickly find out he fits the price of admission here,” head coach Jonathan Gannon said Monday. “The football character is through the roof. He’s extremely smart, has obviously played at a high level for a good amount of time here. He’s done well acclimating in last week. He’s excited to go.

“He’s really a three-position guy,” the head coach added. “He can play it all, he’s smart enough to play all of it. The entire team knows right now it’s kind of a competing phase for their role. Those roles will be defined at (initial 53-man roster cuts) and when we put together the practice squad, so everybody’s kind of in the same boat but he’s played multiple positions throughout his career, had production at all of them, extremely smart, wants to helps us win.”

Why did Jones choose the Cardinals?

Thanks to Jones’ work throughout the past seven seasons, he had a handful of teams interested in his services.

But in the end, Arizona beat out the others.

“When I came in here, I realized how much I was wanted and how much my talent was being recognized,” Jones told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Monday. “That’s huge for a guy I think, at least for me, in that free agency process when you’re trying to decide what’s best for you. It’s like going to the place where the girl that actually wants you. I’m just really grateful.”

“I used to watch your dad”

It hasn’t taken long for Jones to get an idea of the wide receivers room he’s joining.

It also hasn’t taken long for those within the pass-catching group — looking at you, Harrison — to realize Jones’ age.

“He was surprised to find out how old I was the other day when he asked me. ‘I didn’t know you were 29. You’ve been in it for a minute.’

“I was like, ‘I used to watch your dad.’ It’s an awesome room. They’ve welcomed me with open arms. I’m really grateful for them.”

Jones’ early impressions of QB Kyler Murray

Jones would be lying if the wide receiver said he had the offense down pat or knows exactly where he’s going to line up in 2024.

He has, however, already gotten a glimpse of what his new quarterback in Kyler Murray brings to the table as a leader.

“I know this guy’s a playmaker. He’s done it at every single level … he’s well-established and he’s proven it,” Jones said.

“He seems like a great leader so far. Just has a way that he carries himself that I admire. Just the confidence he has without even having to say a whole lot, which I can really appreciate.”

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