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Rookies Get Their Chance Under Steve Wilks

Draft picks getting work with second team and starters

QB Josh Rosen fakes a handoff to RB David Johnson.
QB Josh Rosen fakes a handoff to RB David Johnson.

Steve Wilks was recently asked about his penchant for eating meals with undrafted rookies at training camp -- the low-on-the-totem-pole players who may not have felt the same inclusivity everywhere.

"That's just my personality," the Cardinals coach said. "Once you come in the building, it's not about first round, fifth round or free agent. You're part of the Cardinals family."

That philosophy has made its way to the practice field. First-round pick Josh Rosen, second-rounder Christian Kirk, third-rounder Mason Cole and fourth-rounder Chase Edmonds are getting consistent second-team work during training camp instead of being buried on the depth chart.

Rosen, Edmonds and Kirk have also been sprinkled in with the starters as Wilks allows a true meritocracy to play out. Edmonds called the experience "extremely valuable" because it allows him to assimilate to the speed of the NFL.

"Once that happens, you don't think as much with your plays," Edmonds said. "It's second nature, like it's always been in college."

Rosen saw time with the starters immediately this offseason, and said he was thrown in so quickly he didn't have time to be nervous. Sam Bradford is expected to be given veteran days off periodically through camp, which will give Rosen more work with the starting offense, and maybe more importantly, against the starting defense.

"I'm definitely very grateful for coach Wilks throwing me in there with them," Rosen said. "I'm just going to try to take advantage of every opportunity I get."

Wilks made it clear the undrafted rookies will also get a fair shot. If any of them impress, the lunch dates may continue into the regular season.

"We've seen every year (rookie) free agents come in and make this team, and make several teams throughout this league, and come in and make a difference," Wilks said. "We do a great job in our evaluations with the scouting department and pro personnel, and every guy that's in camp – all 90 – deserve the right to be here and have a chance to make this team."