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Greg Dortch Carries Torch For More Playing Time

Wide receiver coming off first 100-yard game of career

Wide receiver Greg Dortch (left) high-fives quarterback Colt McCoy during Monday night's game in Mexico.
Wide receiver Greg Dortch (left) high-fives quarterback Colt McCoy during Monday night's game in Mexico.

It was the kind of play the Cardinals needed, the kind of play they hadn't had all season – a 47-yard catch-and-run that has been, through 11 games, the only play the offense has generated all season of at least 40 yards.

It was also the kind of play Greg Dortch needed.

"Going into the game I knew I'd be playing a little more than usual, but with Rondale (Moore) going down so fast, I knew I had to step in and make a play," Dortch said.

Moore had a groin injury suffered on the first play, putting Dortch back into the lineup full-time since he was there early in the season – when Moore was also sidelined with injury. All Dortch did was use the 47-yard play as a jumping-off point for the first 100-yard game of his NFL career, a nine-catch, 103-yard effort that again brought into focus what the Cardinals might have in Dortch.

And again, it brought up if he should be playing more on a team that is packed in the wide receiver room, albeit rarely healthy as a group.

"I think he's a dynamic playmaker that anytime he gets the opportunities he's going to make plays," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "It's just the finer points that he's got to continue to work on in our offense and gain the trust of those quarterbacks snap in and snap out."

As great of a game Dortch had against the 49ers, he also wasn't aligned with quarterback Colt McCoy on a key fourth-down play in which – as chronicled on "Hard Knocks" – McCoy expected Dortch to stop in a hole in the coverage and Dortch kept moving, leading to an incompletion.

But McCoy noted after the game how Dortch doesn't get the first-team reps in practice playing behind Moore, and it makes a difference.

"When you don't get those reps in practice because you're not the No. 1 guy you've got to know what you're doing at all times so when you get in those crucial situation—it's fourth down and you've got to be here and you're not there that's on you as a backup or whatever position you're in to understand what we're trying to do," quarterback Kyler Murray said. "It's tough because I understand if you're not getting those reps, it's tough when you get out there. It's full speed and the bullets are flying, but he's very capable of it."

Dortch was the main slot receiver the first three games of the season with Moore down, playing at least 60 snaps in each game. He didn't even total 60 snaps the next three games combined, then his playing time moved up again before tumbling to eight snaps two weeks ago against the Rams.

"It's definitely frustrating because I am a competitor and I want to be on the field every play," Dortch said. "When I am not on the field, I try and be a good teammate, support the guys and when my name is called, be ready. That's the name of the game. It's not easy, but that's what comes with the game."

Dortch said he feels the trust from Murray and Kingsbury, allowing him to play more freely. It's easier when he's had more opportunities this year than any other time in his four-year career which started undrafted and didn't see him get his first NFL catch until last season.

Moore won't be available at least for Sunday's game against the Chargers, clearing the way for Dortch to be the slot receiver for at least another game while Moore tries to get healthy.

After Monday's game, Dortch's father called him and texted him, elated for his son's best NFL game. Dortch enjoyed it in the moment, but this week is a new week, and he knows Moore's status will dictate his own.

"That's basically been my whole career," Dortch said. "I'm prepared for it. I understand that's what comes with the business. When I perform well don't get too high and excited, and when I don't perform as well, try and stay level-headed."

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