Wide receiver Charles Hawkins (89) has a chance to make the team after being a late signing this offseason.
The Cardinals were hurting for numbers at the wide receiver position early in the offseason – Ryan Swope was down with his concussion issues, Michael Rios hurt his foot – and the team just needed another body.
So running backs coach Stump Mitchell brought up the name – again -- of one of the players he coached last year at Southern University, a quick 5-foot-8 wideout. Finally, the Cards brought in Charles Hawkins.
"Stump had been pushing him for a while," coach Bruce Arians said.
Flash-forward to a week into training camp, and Hawkins has gone from offseason body to potential player. The Cards are still seeking receivers beyond the top three of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts and the job opportunities are wide open.
Swope is gone. Returner LaRon Byrd is still out with his own concussion. Robert Gill, he of viral video fame for his treadmill run,
was playing well but is sidelined with a reoccurring hamstring problem. Undrafted rookie Jaron Brown has stood out – he made another nice touchdown catch at Friday's practice – and has made inroads in making the team. And then there's Hawkins, who just seems to make plays daily.
Hawkins said he knows the coaches have noticed but "I don't let it go to my head." He knew it might be tough to even get a shot in the NFL, at his size from a small school. He knows the Cards have some open roster spots at his position. Thinking about all that, though, would be counterproductive.
"I just wanted to contribute," Hawkins said. "I just wanted to follow (the veterans.)"
Arians said Hawkins has flashed plenty but needs to develop more consistency in practice, a message that has gotten through to Hawkins. He said he knows he needs better practice habits and needs to embrace criticism more.
Arians believes, if more consistency arrives, he can find his fourth and fifth receivers on the current roster. For his sake, he'd like to.
"Like I told them all last night, the hardest thing in this business is you cut to 53 and someone went home celebrating and someone (else) came across the waiver wire that we feel like was better," Arians said. "(Then) we had to release someone after he celebrated making the team. That's the hardest thing for a coach because they went from the ultimate high to the ultimate low.
"Make me not want anybody on the waiver wire."
TACKLING REMAINS RARE IN CAMP
The Cardinals went to their first live tackling of camp Thursday and nose tackle Dan Williams went down with a knee and ankle injury that just underscored why it is difficult to ever practice the art.
Teams used to be able to do it but it was "in the old days when you had 180 guys you could tackle 'em all," Arians said.
Arians actually cut short the live goal line work Thursday. Depending on what possible injuries cropped up coming out of Friday's work, the coach said he may allow the young players on third- and fourth-string a chance to do live tackling on the goal line at Saturday's Red-White practice.
Generally, though, tackling won't happen much in camp.
"Tackling is not something we can do," Arians said. "We have four preseason games to tackle. I can only think of one team I've been on in 21 years where we tackled our own guys."
OFFENSIVE LINE POSSIBILITIES
After saying Thursday he hoped to have a starting offensive line picked in the next week or so, he said Friday he was still a long way from making that determination.
On the good side – or bad, depending on what player you are – Arians said he already had narrowed down his candidates that will be on the roster.
"I know who the eight are. Or nine (linemen on the roster)," Arians said. "I don't know who will start yet."
That would seem to imply the team isn't planning further moves on the line. Given the depth, it would makes sense the Cardinals keep nine offensive linemen on the roster, especially since a guy like fourth-round guard Earl Watford is probably too raw to play yet too valuable to expose to the rest of the league.