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Kei'Trel Clark Doesn't Flip Out After Benching

Rookie cornerback has returned to lineup 'a better player'

Kei'Trel Clark has been doing flying flips since he was a kid, back to his days growing up on the playground, and he had done flips coming out of the tunnel earlier this season -- so his flip when he was announced as a starter before Sunday's game against the Rams was not a celebration after being benched for five games.

If anything, Clark has embraced his rookie roller-coaster.

"I'm glad I went through what I went through," the sixth-round pick said Wednesday. "I wouldn't take back being benched. It made me a better person and a better player. I was in the fire (early this season). I learned a lot of ball in a small amount of time."

Clark started the first four games of the season and then played a lot in Week 5 and 6. Then came five games of zero defensive snaps. 

"The main thing for me was I had to get back to the drawing board," Clark said. "I had to really assess some things that I was doing good and things I was not doing as good. It was really looking in the mirror and seeing how I could elevate as a player and a person as well. Keep on chipping away every day. A lot of people in my situation, they probably would've folded. But I kept my head down, understanding I needed to be consistent every single day."

Clark went back and watched every "point of attack" play with which he was involved -- a tackle, a target -- and broke down his technique problems. He carried that over to practice and eventually was rewarded.

The Cardinals moved Marco Wilson out of the starting lineup against the Rams and started three rookies at cornerback: Clark, Garrett Williams and Starling Thomas V. Hamilton and Thomas both sat out practice Wednesday, so the cornerback lineup could be in flux again Sunday.

"Our corners have done a great job of competing every week in practice," defensive coordinator Nick Rallis said. "Guys are improving and like we talk about every week, we're going to go into it with, 'Who is ready to play and who can help us win this game?' That's where roles change week to week and I think you see that in some of the stuff we are doing."

Clark said he liked being part of the "rookie show" although Matthew Stafford didn't care and nor will any other QB. Clark wants to play like he's been in the league for a decade anyway, and he said the coaches always approached his depth chart back and forth in a positive way.

"it was never 'You're done,'" Clark said. "It was moreso, 'Look, just keep on grinding. Show us every day in practice you have a great mindset about it.' Just because we benched you, it was like, who are you? I'm a person of high character and at the end of the day, I'm not going to let one situation or some adversity define the rest of my life."

CB Kei'Trel Clark
CB Kei'Trel Clark