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Confident Christian Kirk Making The Plays The Cardinals Need

Wide receiver, in final year of his contract, playing his best football

Wide receiver Christian Kirk hauls in a 35-yard fourth-down pass in the Cardinals' win over the Vikings.
Wide receiver Christian Kirk hauls in a 35-yard fourth-down pass in the Cardinals' win over the Vikings.

Christian Kirk leaped in the air, a Vikings defender at his back and another bearing down for an eventual hit, and the Cardinals receiver caught the ball.

The reception under duress converted a thrd-and-16. Later in the game, Kirk did another circus catch over his shoulder, gaining 35 yards on a fourth-and-5 play – the same type of play he had turned into a touchdown in Tennessee. And that hadn't even been his best catch against the Titans. That was a contested 11-yard touchdown where he shielded the defender and made the catch near the out-of-bounds white.

Kirk is playing his best football since getting into the NFL. Coach Kliff Kingsbury said it's because Kirk feels healthy and confident.

Kirk said it's that and more.

"Mentally I'm probably in the best place I've been in since I've been here," Kirk said. "I've been through a lot, through the injuries and missing games and questioning a lot of different things. Playing this sport there is a lot you have to go through mentally. It may not seem like that from the outside in, but there is.

"It's when you start thinking too much and questioning yourself is when those (bad) things happen."

Injuries have derailed Kirk, certainly. But while he's had his successes in his career, he's also had frustrating missteps – a key drop here, failing to get into the end zone there. It's little wonder it started playing with Kirk's head.

Now, in the final year of his contract, Kirk's focus becomes even more paramount. Stressing about 2022 and beyond can only hurt him, which is why the Scottsdale native has worked so hard not to be that person.

"I'll be in Arizona for the rest of my life, regardless of if I am (playing) here or not," Kirk said. "I would definitely love to be here. But it's one of those things where I am taking it one game at a time, trying to keep it one of those things I focus on after the season."

Moving inside to the slot full-time has made an impact. Kirk acknowledged that, since that's where he played in college, he has a comfort level there more than the outside role he had his first three seasons.

"He just looks really confident playing inside," Kingsbury said.

Kirk has eight catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns in two games, his 16.9-yard average tops on a team that has been much more balanced in spreading around catches thus far. Kirk also delivered a solid block on Rondale Moore's 77-yard scoring catch, the first touchdown of Moore's career.

"It was good to see him get in the end zone," Kirk said. "I know how good of a feeling that is, it's one of those reassuring moments for you as a rookie – 'OK I can do this, I can play in this league.' "

Kirk knew he could play in this league too. He just needed to build his confidence.


The Cardinals activated wide receiver Antoine Wesley from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, and released kicker Matt McCrane from the practice squad.

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