Josh Rosen made it home to Los Angeles a few times this offseason, and in moments of tranquility, the rookie quarterback allowed his mind to wander.
While many had long ago earmarked the phenom for the NFL, he was still enthralled to reach the pinnacle of the sport. This is awesome, Rosen thought to himself.
The Cardinals’ first-round pick will make his professional debut in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Chargers, but these days, there is no more introspection. While other rookies may steal a moment before kickoff to consider their journey, Rosen is “fully in work mode.”
“Over the course of my career, I’m trying to win Super Bowls, and right now I’m trying to put my best foot forward in this preseason game,” Rosen said. “That time for reflecting is gone.”
Coach Steve Wilks did not lay out specifics, but he plans to give Rosen a significant chunk of action on Saturday. Sam Bradford is the Cardinals’ starter and Rosen is unlikely to unseat him this preseason, but eventually he will get a shot, and every ounce of experience is valuable.
Wilks doesn’t believe the prominent stage will affect his young signal-caller. Rosen is only 21 but he started three years at UCLA, including as a true freshman.
“He’s been playing this game for a long time,” Wilks said. “He’s just got to get in there and relax and do the things he’s been coached to do. I think he’ll be fine.”
Rosen has been happy with his progress since the beginning of training camp, when the breadth of the playbook was taking its toll. His mind has sped up, which Rosen said is a critical process in becoming successful at the NFL level.
“A great pass in high school is a great pass in college is a great pass in the NFL,” Rosen said. “The only difference is the kind-of-off-pass-a-little-bit. It’s a pick. It’s not as big of a mistake (at the lower levels). You can’t second-guess yourself and you have to be very decisive. When you catch yourself in the middle of a play second-guessing a read, you just have to move on. You can’t try to fit it in. You can’t try to do this. You just have to keep running through your progressions. I think that’s the biggest thing you have to look out for. Once you feel yourself buffering a little bit, you have to keep pushing on because the bad mistakes are worse in the NFL.”
Rosen has said a couple of times this offseason that he was glad there wasn’t a game the next day. He was asked on Wednesday how prepared he felt now with the first live action coming down the pike.
“I’m thinking in like three or four days I’ll be good,” Rosen said with a smile.
COMPETITIONS STILL OPEN AT WIDEOUT, CORNERBACK
The Cardinals unveiled their first depth chart this week, which had Brice Butler listed as the No. 2 wide receiver. Wilks said not to read too much into the positioning.
“I wouldn’t say (Butler) is leading the pack,” Wilks said. “I know when (Cardinals staffers) came to me and started talking about the depth chart, we had to put someone down at No. 2, and that’s what we did. But all those guys, as you’ve seen throughout the last couple days and weeks, they’ve been rotating in and out with the ones. It’s just really a piece of paper.”
The same holds true at cornerback. Jamar Taylor is listed as the starting cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson but Wilks said Brandon Williams is pushing him “quite a bit” despite being listed as a third-teamer.
“Nothing is guaranteed on the other side (of Peterson),” Wilks said. ‘It’s still open.”
COIN FLIP PHILOSOPHY
Wilks is a defensive-minded coach, so it’s not a surprise that he plans to defer when winning the coin toss this season, which would put his defense on the field to open a game.
“Try to set the tone,” Wilks said.
Wilks also likes to defer because it gives the Cardinals a chance to get consecutive possessions at the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third. It is a departure from former coach Bruce Arians’ philosophy, as he preferred to receive the opening kick.
Images from Tuesday morning's outdoor training camp practice