Since the first day of training camp, Marco Wilson has impressed.
In the season-opener -- the rookie's first NFL game -- Wilson held his own against star receiver A.J. Brown and future Hall of Famer Julio Jones, allowing just three catches for 10 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. He has since become a vital part of the Cardinals' secondary, somewhat surprisingly starting from day one after being picked in the fourth round of April's draft.
Playing on Sundays has been an adjustment from suiting up each Saturday at the University of Florida. But Wilson's preparation mindset has propelled him to handle more responsibility from the coaches. When projected starter Malcolm Butler shockingly announced his retirement, Wilson found himself a lock for the top of the depth chart.
"Honestly, coming in, starting was something I had in my head." Wilson said. "Since the NFL season is long, I knew I would probably have to play – and you never know who will get banged up and can't play. So, every day in camp, I prepared myself as if I was going to start. So, when the moment came, I would be ready."
Lining up in practice weekly against an explosive wide receiver group, including DeAndre Hopkins (who Wilson believes is the best wideout in the NFL), A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and Rondale Moore – is something Wilson calls a blessing, adding that it gives him extra preparation and confidence heading into any matchup.
The Cardinals defense ranks top 10 in passing, allowing 202 yards in the air per game. Wilson has been targeted 14 times according to PFF, tied for second-most on the team behind Robert Alford. Now Wilson will face the best passing game he's seen so far when the Cardinals play the undefeated Rams in an NFC West battle.
With a new team and scheme, quarterback Matthew Stafford leads in the NFL in QBR and recently tied Kurt Warner's franchise record for most touchdowns in a player's first three games, with nine touchdowns and only one interception.
Five Rams receivers are already over 100 yards for the season, averaging at least 10 yards per catch. Cooper Kupp has been a revelation in 2021, leading in the NFL with 367 receiving yards. DeSean Jackson looks likely to surpass the yardage he accumulated the past two years in Philadelphia.
Wilson will be tested again – likely more than the past three games.
"The Rams are a really good squad," Wilson said. "We'll have to bring our best and be very attentive to detail – and play how we know how to play."
The best photos from the Cardinals' victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season