TEMPE [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/adrian-peterson-jersey]Authentic Adrian Peterson Jersey[/url] , Ariz. (AP) — First-year Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks has wanted players to separate themselves in the crowded competition at wide receiver.
Christian Kirk and Chad Williams seem to have done just that.
Both youngsters had impressive nights in the Cardinals’ 20-15 preseason victory at New Orleans on Friday night.
Kirk, a second-round pick from Texas A&M, caught four passes for 49 yards, including a 13-yard dart in traffic from fellow rookie Josh Rosen for a touchdown. Williams, a third-round pick from Grambling State in 2017, caught three for 44 yards.
“Christian Kirk, Chad Williams, the way they performed. Tough catches, yardage after with Chad,” Wilks said after the team returned to practice Sunday. “I thought those guys stepped up. I thought they created a little bit of separation. It’s ongoing in that room so I’m looking for guys to continue to get better.”
Kirk and Williams took advantage of the absence of wide receiver Brice Butler, out with a foot injury. Butler had been listed as the No. 2 receiver opposite Larry Fitzgerald on the depth chart but Wilks had declared the positon “pretty wide open” during training camp.
“With Brice being out, there’s more opportunities to go out and show what we can do,” Kirk said. “I’m really excited with how we played and looking forward to another good week of practice and getting out there in Dallas and do it again.”
Kirk, who grew up in suburban Phoenix as a Cardinals fan, made his presence felt the first time he touched the ball [url=http://www.titansauthorizedshops.com/authentic-derrick-henry-jersey]Derrick Henry Jersey Big[/url] , returning a punt 38 yards in Arizona’s first preseason game, a 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He would have had a touchdown, most likely, had he not slipped making a move on the final would-be tackler, the punter.
Now he’s trying to show that he’s not just a specialist but a reliable big-play threat as a receiver.
“You’ve just got to learn week by week, whether it’s the speed of the game, the playbook, I mean it all just comes more natural the more reps that you get,” Kirk said. “You get used to the looks that you’re seeing. It’s getting a lot easier. I feel like I’ve made bounds and strides from when I first stepped in here.”
Wide receiver is a big question mark for the Cardinals, with no truly proven players — except perhaps Butler — beyond Fitzgerald, who enters his 15th NFL season with career statistics among the greatest in the game’s history.
So the showing of the youngsters was welcome news.
That might be particularly true of Williams, who struggled through a difficult rookie season, appearing in only six games with three catches for 31 yards.
Has the light come on?
“He’s just such a competitor,” Wilks said. “He understands exactly what he needs to do. He wasn’t satisfied with some of the things that happened last year, the inconsistency [url=http://www.kansascitychiefsteamonline.com/patrick-mahomes-ii-jersey]Authentic Patrick Mahomes Jersey[/url] , so I think he’s ready to step up.”
Williams said he’s much more at ease.
“I feel like it’s sunk in and I know the way of going about things,” he said, “and it just comes natural now.”
The Cardinals wrapped up their relatively brief training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale on Wednesday. They will work out Monday, have Tuesday off, then practice Wednesday through Friday in preparation for their Sunday game at Dallas.
“This was always in the plans because really I wanted those guys to get acclimated to how we’re going to do it during the year, to get away from the University of Phoenix Stadium and get back here and get down to the routine,” Wilks aid. “Routine is so important to me.”
Notes: Wilks said there will be no rush to get DT Robert Nkemdiche back after the former first-round draft pick left Friday night’s game with a foot injury. “I really don’t have a timetable on it right now,” Wilks said. “Just taking to the trainers, we’re just going to take it day to day and see how it goes.”
PHOENIX — Gotcha.
Anthony Davis fooled the world with his elaborate brow-shaving April Fool’s joke.
Now it is time to get serious.
Davis and his New Orleans Pelicans are one of seven teams still in the scrum for the final five Western Conference playoff spots with six days left in the regular season, and their off day Thursday turned into a big day when both the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota lost.
With the Timberwolves’ loss to Denver, the Pelicans (44-34) jumped over Minnesota and moved within one-half game San Antonio and Oklahoma City, who are tied for fifth place at 45-34.
This could be fun.
Davis was at his best when the Pelicans broke a four-game losing streak with a 123-95 victory over Memphis on Wednesday, scoring 28 points with 12 rebounds, three blocked shots, two assists and two steals.
The Pelicans (44-34) will attempt to continue their run Friday against Phoenix (20-59) [url=http://www.neworleanssaintsteamonline.com/drew-brees-jersey]Authentic Drew Brees Jersey[/url] , which broke a franchise-record 15-game losing streak in a 97-94 home victory over Sacramento on Tuesday.
“I was trying to get back to how I was playing, get the team back,” Davis told reporters after playing at less than one hundred percent in the two previous games because of a twisted ankle suffered in a loss to Portland on March 27.
“I know they feed off my energy, so I just try to come out with a lot of energy on both ends of the floor and try to lead us to a win. It was fun, but we’ve got to do the same thing next time we play.”
Davis is averaging 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game, second in the league in scoring and fifth in rebounds. Davis, 6-foot-10, and Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo are the only players averaging at least 25 points and 10 rebounds a game.
E’Twaun Moore had 30 points and Nikola Mirotic had 25 points against Memphis, and the Pelicans made 16 3-pointers. Moore had seven threes. Mirotic started in place of Emeka Okafor.
“I thought we did what we needed to,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters. “I thought our ball movement was good again. I thought (Davis) was very aggressive at the start of the game. We shot the ball well as a team. We needed to see some 3s go in.”
The Pelicans face a daunting final three games as they attempt to get into the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Their three-game road trip continues at Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers before the home finale against San Antonio on Apr. 11.
The Nuggets moved into a tie with Minnesota (both are 44-35) with their 100-96 victory over the Timberwolves Thursday, and both teams are one-half game behind New Orleans. The Clippers fell to (42-37) with a loss to Utah on Thursday and are on the brink of elimination.
The Suns have the worst record in the league and will finish with their fewest losses since the 1968-69 expansion season team (16-66) unless they win their final three games. They are 2-27 since Jan. 31. They won once in February and were 0-14 in March, the first winless full month in franchise history.
Suns forward Josh Jackson had 28 points, six rebounds, two steals [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/randall-cobb-jersey]Authentic Randall Cobb Jersey[/url] , two assists and a block against Sacramento. He has scored at least 15 points in 11 consecutive games, tying Utah guard Donovan Mitchell for the longest streak by a rookie this season. Jackson is averaging 21.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in that stretch.
Jackson has become the Suns’ No. 1 scoring option in the continued absence of Devin Booker, TJ Warren and Elfrid Payton. Booker has missed the last nine games with a sprained right hand and Warren has missed the last eight with a hip injury. Neither is expected to play against New Orleans.
“You kind of welcome the fact that he’s ready to take it,” Suns interim coach Jay Triano said of Jackson’s willingness. “Some guys will panic with two or three seconds to go, worry about (his shooting) percentage.
“But Josh is just thinking, ‘I got to do whatever’s right, I got to put it up, I got to get it on the rim, maybe (Alex) Len can knock it out, maybe Marquese (Chriss) can get a rebound.’ He’s not afraid of the moment, that’s for sure.
“He’s electric in the open court. He’s electric if you get him a little bit of an angle and a lane to the basket. Making shots, and from the perimeter, will be an addition to what he can do. And when he does that it’s going to be great.”
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