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Adversity Hits Second Cornerback Candidates

Posted Aug 28, 2016

Mike Jenkins suffers potentially serious knee injury, Justin Bethel "rusty"

Cardinals cornerback Brandon Williams had a nice outing as he competes for a starting spot in Week 1.

HOUSTON – It was a rough day for a pair of Cardinals taking aim at the second starting cornerback spot.

Veteran Mike Jenkins had played himself into the conversation of late with several solid days of practice despite playing with a cast on his broken hand. However, Jenkins suffered another injury in a 34-24 loss to the Texans, one that looked severe.

He went to the ground clutching his right knee after attempting to tackle Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins in the first quarter and had to be carted off. Coach Bruce Arians didn’t know the severity of the injury, but it could be grim.

Justin Bethel came in as his replacement and quickly gave up a 35-yard reception to Will Fuller, then was later beaten by Fuller for a 26-yard touchdown. It was Bethel’s first game action of the year, as he was sidelined most of the offseason after surgery to repair a foot fracture.

“Obviously I’ve got some stuff I still need to work on, only going off four or five practices and not having done anything in a while,” Bethel said. “I gave up some big plays I wouldn’t want to give up, but it was nice to get back out there with the guys.”

Bethel said on the first long reception, he failed to get a good jam. On the touchdown pass, he thought Fuller pushed off at the last moment.

“The ref said it wasn’t enough to do anything,” Bethel said.  “I thought I was in position, but it’s one of those things where you win some, you lose some.”

Arians said Bethel was “rusty.” The foot injury started bothering Bethel as the game went on, and he said in retrospect he probably should have played one less series.

“I kind of had my doubts about (Sunday) anyway because we were playing on turf,” Bethel said. “When you play on turf, anything that is hurting you kind of hurts a little more. I felt good the first series. After the second series it was a little sore, and then by the time I finished – I was done anyway, but after I was like, ‘Yeah, I need to relax a little bit.’”

Rookie Brandon Williams came out in the best shape of the three players who were still competing for the starting cornerback spot. He was beaten on one deep pass that was dropped, but otherwise held up.

“The more reps I get, the more I get accustomed to things,” Williams said. “It slows down more for me, and I get better.”

Williams had several snaps guarding Hopkins, one of the better wideouts in the game. He saw time against Raiders star Amari Cooper and Chargers star Keenan Allen in the past two games.

“It speeds up my process, my learning curve, going against those quality guys,” Williams said. “Those guys are some of the best in the league. They’re totally different. One of them is bigger, one is shiftier. They give you a mix of everything.”

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