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Christian Kirk Emerges Against Bears

Notes: Benwikere plays instead of Bucannon; Golden, Gresham return

WR Christian Kirk hauls in a pass against the Bears
WR Christian Kirk hauls in a pass against the Bears

After showing flashes of his ability in the first two weeks, second-round pick Christian Kirk put together the most complete game of his career in Sunday's 16-14 loss to the Bears.

The rookie wide receiver led the Cardinals with seven catches for 90 yards, including a pair of 30-plus-yard receptions. The Cardinals have been searching for a legitimate third option offensively beyond running back David Johnson and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and Kirk seems to be that guy.

"I tell (the quarterbacks) all the time, 'I'm here, we're here,'" Kirk said. "As a group, especially as wide receivers, we're going to make those plays for them. I remind them of that every time we step on the field."

Kirk had an integral 30-yard reception on a third-and-4 on the Cardinals' opening drive, which set up a 35-yard touchdown catch by tight end Ricky Seals-Jones two plays later.

He had a 32-yard reception in the fourth quarter to get the Cardinals down to the Chicago 23-yard line, but quarterback Sam Bradford lost a fumble two plays later. Kirk said his comfort level has increased each week.

"It's definitely slowing down a bunch," Kirk said. "I've just been able to make the right decisions, whether it's reading coverages or whatnot. It just feels comfortable."

Kirk was targeted a team-high eight times. No other pass-catcher was targeted more than four times, including Larry Fitzgerald, who caught his only two targets for nine yards.

"That's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes," Fitzgerald said.

BENWIKERE PLAYS IN DIME PACKAGES

When the Cardinals went to their pass-defending dime packages, cornerback Bene' Benwikere took the place of starting linebacker Gerald Hodges. He was the sixth defensive back in those formations, as the coaching staff went with Benwikere instead of linebacker Deone Bucannon.

Bucannon, the team's 2014 first-round pick who has been a key piece in past years, played on special teams but only one snap on defense. Safety Tre Boston said the Bears' personnel played a role in the switch.

"It kind of helped us matching up to them," Boston said. "They had a speedy (running back Tarik Cohen) coming out of the backfield. What he's known for is being a little receiver. … I thought we did a good job matching up with them with the DBs when we needed to."

GOLDEN, GRESHAM RETURN TO FIELD

Defensive end Markus Golden (ACL) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (Achilles) returned to action for the first time following last year's significant injuries. Both were on a limited snap count.

Gresham had a nine-yard catch in the fourth quarter, his only reception of the contest. Golden didn't have a tackle and was called for a roughing the passer penalty. Golden said there were no lingering issues and he's looking forward to increasing his playing time moving forward.

"When you get out there you just want to play more, but they made me stay on to my snap count," Golden said. "I tried to push it over and get a little more but they made me stay on it. But I felt great. I felt like myself out there."

Images from the Week 3 matchup against Chicago at State Farm Stadium

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