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'Kei'Trel Is Going To Be A Really Big Part Of Us'

Rookie cornerback moves from starter to inactive, but rotation in play

The journey for sixth-round rookie cornerback Kei'Trel Clark over the first eight games of the season has been an interesting one. Clark was the starter coming out of training camp, beating out not only Christian Matthew but also veteran Antonio Hamilton.

But he was taken out of the starting lineup for a game in Week 5, and while he started again Week 6 (after Jalen Thompson got hurt) his snaps dwindled every week and then last weekend against the Ravens, he was inactive. There are reasons for that. Thompson and Budda Baker were healthy again for the first time together since Week 1, fellow rookie Garrett Williams was in his second game back after his ACL rehab -- and playing for the first time with Baker and Thompson -- and Hamilton had earned more playing time.

Another rookie, Starling Thomas, who had been claimed on waivers at the end of preseason, also started getting some defensive snaps in the last few weeks.

"Like we talk about all the time, roles can change throughout the year," defensive coordinator Nick Rallis said. "Kei'Trel is going to be a really big part of us going forward. He's a really good player with a bright future. I feel pretty strongly about that.

"Honestly it's a good problem to have with what we have going because we have a lot of guys in that room we feel can give us a chance to win. We are working different rotations there and every week it might look a little bit different."

Marco Wilson was rotated out for a few snaps against the Ravens but coach Jonathan Gannon said he will remain a big part of the Cardinals defense. Rallis praised Williams, who fits in as a nickel/safety more than an outside corner, as a guy who has the smarts and the skillset to be a good pro. Despite missing almost a year after tearing his ACL in college, Rallis said after two games Williams "doesn't look like what you would expect" for an inexperienced rookie.

Meanwhile, Clark will wait his turn -- a turn that seems inevitable.

"Kei'Trel was disappointed he wasn't up for the game," Rallis said, "but he had a phenomenal attitude and I know he will come to work the exact same every single time."

Cardinals cornerback Kei'Trel Clark (13) and Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort.