The last time Budda Baker suited up in an NFL game, the finish was anything but ideal for him and the team.
The Cardinals lost to the Rams in an NFC Wild Card game in Los Angeles while the safety sustained a concussion late in the third quarter. Baker went for a routine tackle on Cam Akers that turned sideways, putting Baker on a stretcher and then to the local hospital for further testing.
Baker remembers the incident vividly and acknowledged he had watched highlights of the clash.
"When I go back and think about it, it was late in the game," Baker said Monday, after the Cardinals' first OTA off the offseason. "We were losing, guys were trying to make plays, and we saw the running back break. Usually, I try to get my right shoulder and head behind the ball. My normal target is the core to the thigh pad.
"He got really low and put his shoulder down. His shoulder hit the back of my head and I was knocked out for a couple seconds. I remember the trainer saying, 'You're knocked out, stay down' and all that stuff."
Baker made a full recovery, and since then been a full participant in the Cardinals' voluntary offseason workouts without any restrictions. His constant smile in the weight room and on the field shows appreciation for avoiding something that could've turned out much worse.
"It was a crazy experience and something I would never want anyone else to go through," Baker said. "But I was fine the next day, working out and everything. I felt good and the tests came back clean, so it's a true blessing."
THE FUTURE OF TWEEZY
Since star receiver DeAndre Hopkins was suspended for six games this season for testing positive for a banned substance, Antoine "Tweezy" Wesley will likely have a bigger role in the Cardinals' passing game during the early part of 2022.
Last year, the wideout had an uptick in playing time when Hopkins missed seven games with injuries. Wesley feels the extra reps built confidence for him within the offense, which should continue to grow this offseason before Week 1.
Wesley is not worried about his role, just producing when the team asks.
"Control what I can control," Wesley said. "Make sure I know the playbook and make the play whenever the ball is thrown my way. There's really no other option than that."
Wesley will also sport the No. 13 this season; a jersey Christian Kirk wore with the Cardinals before departing for the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. Wesley said he talked to Kirk and received his blessing from Kirk to make the number switch.
ERTZ MAKES HAIR-TURNING CHANGE
After landing a new three-year deal to remain in Arizona, Zach Ertz has worked out at the team facility. But while the tight end has run routes and caught passes in workouts, the change to his hair, now blond, has stood out.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury is a fan of the look. Ertz said he just wanted to switch things up.
"My wife has asked me to do it for years and I finally did it last year," Ertz said. "It's stuck for two years now. It's no conspiracy or anything, just something fun."