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The Fight Of The Undrafted


Kick returner Michael Ray Garvin is one of nine undrafted rookies the Cardinals signed after the 2009 draft ended.

It's been a long time since Jerheme Urban entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie, especially with the wide receiver going into his seventh season and having played for two Super Bowl teams.

That doesn't mean he'll forget his beginnings.

"I still feel the pressure of being undrafted," Urban said. "I think that is good and doesn't let you get complacent. Right or wrong, across the league, I think there is still a perception, even if you play a few years, 'Well, he was undrafted.' That is one thing I appreciate about being here – coach (Ken) Whisenhunt plays the guys who earn the playing time across the board."

Whisenhunt's desire to find the best players can only help the new group of undrafted rookies the Cardinals brought in Monday, nine all told.

The list includes Florida State kick returner Michael Ray Garvin, Hampton wide receiver Justin Brown, Oregon State wide receiver Shane Morales, Maryland linebacker Chase Bullock, Hawaii cornerback Jameel Dowling, Cincinnati guard Khalil El-Amin, Memphis tackle Brandon Pierce, Penn State safety Tony Davis and Kansas State linebacker Reggie Walker.

Before their haul Monday, the Cardinals already had 26 one-time undrafted players on the roster. Besides Urban, the group includes quarterback Kurt Warner, cornerback Rod Hood, center Lyle Sendlein, fullback Dan Kreider and safety Aaron Francisco.

With the draft limited to seven rounds, the undrafted classes become even more important to fill a roster.

"For me, after you make the team and go through all the hardships, (the undrafted stigma) kind of fades away after awhile," Francisco said. "But that was one of the things that pushed me. I had something to prove."

As the roster improves, it gets more difficult for undrafted rookies to make the team. Last year, the only one to survive the final cut was linebacker Ali Highsmith.

"We had a couple undrafted guys last year that acted like first-round picks," Urban said. "I don't want to say the drafted guys have less appreciation, but sometimes I think when you aren't drafted and are cut a couple of times, you realize it's truly a privilege to be in this league, not just a right."

Contact Darren Urban at Posted 4/27/09.

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