Cardinals’ Greg Dortch hungrier than ever in expanded offensive role

Jun 20, 2024, 1:45 PM

TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals wide receiver and return man Greg Dortch has been put through the wringer ever since he broke into the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2019.

Working his way through practice squads and releases over a majority of his first three NFL seasons — with two NFL games and a fumble on the career stat sheet — Dortch just couldn’t stick with an organization.

That was until he signed on with the Cardinals in 2021, more than doubling his games played (five) with a pair of starts in his first season.

But as his role as a returner and pass catcher grew across the next two years, offensive opportunities were still few and far between for the wideout.

His best season to date came in 2022 behind 52 catches for 467 yards and two touchdowns as he filled in for an injured Rondale Moore.

Entering 2024, though, there’s a clear change taking place, with Dortch fighting for starting reps more than trying to land a roster spot.

What hasn’t changed, though, is how he’s approaching a year filled with big expectations for Arizona’s slot man.

“The mentality stays the same,” Dortch said Thursday. “Undrafted, Year 6, same mentality. If not, I’m a little more hungry than I was from the jump. This is a big year for me. I just plan on going out there and having fun.

“I feel like everything will take care of itself as long as I go out there and be myself and have fun, have no worries.”

There’s added levels of comfortability and confidence to Dortch — and the offense as a whole this offseason.

A lot of that has to do with the new regime entering its second season at the helm and the continued trust Dortch and the coaching staff continue to build.

The work he puts in behind the scenes and his number change to No. 4 are big confidence boosters, too.

It also helps having your franchise quarterback fully healthy for the entirety of offseason work, something Arizona didn’t have the luxury last year with Kyler Murray recovering from a torn ACL.

“I think it’s super big. I think it’s more important than a lot of people expect,” Dortch said. “Kyler’s a dynamic player. When he’s in the huddle and when he speaks, we listen and we follow behind him.

“He’s the leader of the offense. He’s in control of everything. To have him in the huddle from Day 1 and just being out there in practice, it means a lot.”

There’s no doubt that the expectation for Dortch this season is to put up career numbers given the position he’s in.

Dortch doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself when talking about his role being a better fit than it has in the past. He does, however, remain determined to make the most of his reps as he has throughout his career.

“We’ll have to see. I don’t have all the answers right now. I do know that when my number gets called and I have an opportunity to make a play, I’m going to make the play.,” Dortch said.

Opportunities await Greg Dortch in the return game

Aside from his duties as Arizona’s projected slot man, Dortch also carries the responsibility of returner.

Much like his excitement over his expanded offensive role, Dortch believes he can make an even bigger impact on special teams.

The NFL’s new kickoff changes help with that.

“Just watching it on film, I feel like there’s tons of opportunities for me to be explosive and make plays,” Dortch said. “Come September, I’m definitely excited for that.

“You don’t have guys running downfield full speed. It doesn’t start until I either catch the ball or the ball hits the ground,” the wideout added. “That’s kind of an advantage to me. The game’s a little slower and everybody’s at one level. Shoot, you break past that first level, it’s just you and the kicker. I’ll take my chances with that.”

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