Christian Kirk hopes his childhood friend Kyle Allen has a great NFL career.
He just didn't want that upward trajectory to begin so soon.
Allen, the former star quarterback at Scottsdale Desert Mountain High School, was fantastic against the Cardinals on Sunday, completing 19-of-26 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
The Panthers played without star quarterback Cam Newton but still rolled offensively in a 38-20 win, and much of that was due to Allen's performance.
"Bittersweet," said Kirk, the Cardinals' second-year wide receiver who played at Scottsdale Saguaro High School. "Obviously I'm so proud of him, and what he's able to do, and leading that team. But it's tough when you're on the losing end."
Allen was one of the highest-rated quarterback recruits in the country coming out of high school but his college career never took off. He went undrafted and was unemployed for a stretch last year – watching Kirk and the Cardinals from the stands at one point – but shined in his homecoming.
"It's the first time I've ever played in this stadium," Allen said. "I have a lot of people here, a lot of family, a lot of friends, friends on the other team. It's special coming home."
Allen was able to fully enjoy the reunion with Kirk since his team came away with the victory. The pair exchanged jerseys after the game.
"We've both been through so much together since high school, and even last year when I wasn't on a team, he was out here helping me because I was out in Arizona," Allen said. "And we just support each other through it all. He has obviously had a monstrous career and he's going to continue that monstrous career. He's a great player and a great friend, and he's a really good teammate. It was awesome to play against him tonight."
ANDY LEE SUFFERS HIP FLEXOR INJURY
Punter Andy Lee suffered a hip flexor injury when he tackled Panthers punt returner Ray-Ray McCLoud early in the fourth quarter.
Lee left the game and kicker Zane Gonzalez assumed punt duties the rest of the way.
"We'll probably know a little more (Monday), but right now I don't think it's anything crazy, crazy, crazy serious," Lee said. "But it was enough to where I couldn't continue to do my job. We'll see what happens."
Lee finished with three punts for 128 yards with a net punting average of 42.7. Gonzalez did a nice job as the emergency replacement with two punts for 84 yards, with a 42.0 net average.
CARDINALS USE RIGHT TACKLE ROTATION
Recently-signed right tackle Jordan Mills replaced Justin Murray in the starting lineup, but they ended up rotating at the position throughout the contest.
Murray started the first two games of the year for veteran Marcus Gilbert, who went down with a season-ending torn ACL days before the opener. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said he will need to review the tape in order to evaluate the pair.
"I think at times (they) held up well, but I'll have to watch the film," Kingsbury said.
Images from the Week 3 contest at State Farm Stadium