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Marco Wilson Making Progress, As Is Cornerback Room

After Peterson's departure, cover men will have a new look

Rookie cornerback Marco Wilson covers Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb in Saturday's preseason opener.
Rookie cornerback Marco Wilson covers Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb in Saturday's preseason opener.

Marco Wilson doesn't have any particular veteran defensive backs he goes to for advice. The rookie cornerback said he talks to all of them.

The fourth-round pick has leaned on a teammate on the offensive side of the ball as well.

"One thing that's been really helpful, I talk to DeAndre Hopkins because he goes against some of the greatest guys in the league at my position," Wilson said after Sunday's practice. "I ask him for tips every now and then."

Wilson looked like he has been listening, at least in the first preseason game of the season on Friday night. He had a couple of pass breakups, including one early in the game that could've been an interception, and looked generally comfortable as he tries to find a place higher up on the depth chart.

"Marco had some flash plays, he had some plays he'd like to have back," coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

As the Cardinals attempt to build a cornerback group for the first time APP – after Patrick Peterson – optimism about Wilson can only help.

Byron Murphy Jr., Malcolm Butler and Robert Alford are the top three corners. Wilson, veterans Darqueze Dennard and Daryl Worley are among the next group, with fellow rookie Tay Gowan and holdover Jace Whittaker also options.

"They drafted two terrific cornerbacks, we brought in some terrific cornerbacks in free agency, and we have veterans coming back," Alford said. "We have everything we need at the end of the day in that locker room. It's just a matter of us getting better each and every day."

Kingsbury said the competition at the position has been good (although Dennard has missed several practices and the game with an injury). Alford's return has been welcomed, and with the entire position, "I like where that's heading."

Murphy has been impressive, turning an every-down job as a rookie thanks to an Alford injury into experience that has made him the team's top cornerback. Then again, "I know I've got some experience, but I don't really call myself a vet yet. I'm still learning," he said.

To have Wilson develop would be crucial. The Cardinals have drafted a cornerback only three times in the top four rounds since they took Peterson fifth overall in 2011. Murphy has been a good pick. Brandon Williams (third round, 2016) and Jamell Fleming (third round, 2012) were not. Gowan, the sixth-round pick, has a steeper climb to make the roster at this point.

"Before the game even started, I told them, go out and play your game, don't think too much," Murphy said. "I got a lot of reps my rookie year, so I'm kind of advising them."

So too is Hopkins, at least for Wilson, who is learning from the veteran through words and deeds. In one recent practice, Wilson caught caught on Hopkins' stutter-step-and-go, with Hopkins earning enough room to make the catch down the sideline.

Wilson also got some work against Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb Friday.

"It felt natural out there," Wilson said. "(I'm) having fun and living my dream playing NFL football."