Cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson (20) and Patrick Peterson (21) wait before the Chiefs' game last week.
FLAGSTAFF – By Week 8 of last season, with the Cardinals sitting at 1-6, changes were made, and A.J. Jefferson's starting cornerback spot was part of the overhaul.
After starting the first seven games of the season, Jefferson was relegated to backup duty and he took it personally. He spent the offseason with his head buried in the playbook and solicited feedback from his coaches, all with the hopes of re-entering the starting lineup.
With the right corner position locked up by Patrick Peterson, Jefferson is in a race – which could be include as few as five and as many as nine Cards – for the left corner. And he only has three more preseason games to prove himself to coach Ken Whisenhunt.
"It's competitive every day," Jefferson said. "You got to go out there and work hard. You got a bunch of guys that can play and you never know what's going to happen. You just got to put it on film in game time or crunch time when it all goes down.
"That's when you got to show you can do it."
Jefferson has managed to stay healthy during training camp while Michael Adams (hamstring) and Greg Toler (knee) – both of whom are listed higher on the depth chart – are hurt right now.
Last season's challenges for Jefferson were more mental than physical, he said. But Whisenhunt was clear Wednesday that Jefferson has his work cut out for him.
"He's got a chance this year to show what he can do, but he's in a battle," Whisenhunt said. "We've got some pretty good players there that are all competing for spots and that's what you want. So he better put his best foot forward or it's not going to be the best thing in the world for him."
AT THE MOVIES
Whisenhunt surprised the Cardinals about 20 minutes into their morning walk through Wednesday with an impromptu trip to the movies. Well, impromptu to the players.
The coach had the field trip planned and ready to go, but he debated about giving the players a few hours away from football. After watching their effort improve this week Whisenhunt decided the movies were warranted.
The players had the option of seeing The Campaign, The Bourne Legacy or Total Recall. Whisenhunt saw The Bourne Legacy and Daryn Colledge saw The Campaign.
"It's good for the spirit of the guys," Colledge said. "We've had two physical days the last two days so to just get a little reprieve (was good). All we missed was a walkthrough this morning. It's not like it was a huge miss. For us it's just a little breather.
"It was just nice to sit in a dark theater and kick your feet up for a few minutes."
RUNNING BACK ROULETTE
The first steps for Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells to return to the Cardinals' lineup are different, Whisenhunt said.
For Williams, he needs to get past that first hit. And for Wells, he needs the soreness in his right knee to go down.
"He was obviously a little rusty the first day and he's gotten a little better each day," Whisenhunt said of Wells. "Getting off of it for a couple of days will help. We'll see how he feels. I think the big part of it is in pregame Friday and how he feels there."
Williams is schedule to play Friday against Oakland at University of Phoenix Stadium and after missing all of his rookie season with a torn right patella tendon, he needs a welcome back hit, Whisenhunt said.
"That's what important for him and for us just because it's the first step he's worked hard to get to this point," Whisenhunt said. "That's what we want to see."