Trent Sherfield had just hauled in a highlight-worthy 22-yard touchdown pass.
And then? “I actually didn’t know what to do,” the Cardinals’ second-year wide receiver said. “So I just said, ‘Let’s go jump in the stands. Let’s try that on.’ ”
For the relatively quiet Sherfield, it was out of the ordinary. But he deserved to try something, with the way he played during the Cards’ 17-13 preseason win over the Chargers Thursday night at State Farm Stadium.
As one of the players battling for a wide receiver spot, his opener couldn’t have gone much better. The fantastic TD reception was one of a team-high four he had in the game. He also had an excellent punt cover, drilling Chargers return man Artavis Scott with a textbook tackle for a no-yard return after a 52-yard boot by Andy Lee.
At first, Sherfield said the TD catch and special-team tackle rated equally important to him. Then he reconsidered.
“Honestly, the special teams tackle probably means more to me because of me having that journey and being able to tell that story,” Sherfield said.
The story is Sherfield making a team a year ago because he could play special teams, eventually earning his way on the field enough as a receiver to finish with 19 catches as a rookie. On a team that flooded the position with three draft picks and signed two more free agents, Sherfield made a big step Thursday in joining Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk as holdovers.
Sherfield isn’t getting ahead of himself, acknowledging that he knows he’s fighting for a roster spot – “I will feel like that for the rest of my career,” he said – and just wants to “ascend.” Coach Kliff Kingsbury praised Sherfield’s work ethic and said he has indeed improved.
Whether Sherfield will jump into the stands again, well, he’s not making any predictions.
“Hopefully (I’ll) get in the end zone a little bit more, and we’ll see,” Sherfield said.
DEFENSE BENDS BUT DOESN’T BREAK
The first-team defense didn’t play like it wanted, allowing the Chargers – behind second-string quarterback Tyrod Taylor – to march down the field on its initial drive. But with the Chargers at the Cardinals 2-yard line, defensive tackle Darius Philon collided with running back Austin Ekeler, holding him up as linebacker Jordan Hicks came in to strip the ball and recover the fumble.
“We can’t let them, as a starting defense, get down there,” Hicks said. “We have to stop the run. But that’s part of it. Growing pains, and that’s what preseason is for.”
MURPHY EXPECTED BACK SOON
Rookie cornerback Byron Murphy did not play with a right foot injury – he was wearing a boot – but Kingsbury said Murphy should return to practice soon. Wide receiver Kevin White did not play because of a hamstring injury.
Rookie wide receiver Andy Isabella, who returned to his first practice Tuesday after dealing with a knee injury, did not play. Kingsbury said he will play next week against the Raiders.
GONZALEZ DRILLS LONG FIELD GOAL
Kingsbury hasn’t been timid in his backing of kicker Zane Gonzalez. Gonzalez had a nice start to the preseason, converting two extra points and easily making a 55-yard field goal. Gonzalez acknowledged hearing his coach back him publicly makes a difference.
“When a historic organization like the Cardinals, a storied franchise, has a lot of confidence like that, it goes a long way for you,” Gonzalez said.