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You've Got Mail: Preseason Week Versus The Broncos

Topics include Ojulari's return, Maxx Williams, and Colt vs. Tune

Mailbag Michael Wilson 080823

It's game week. The preseason arrives, Sean Payton has assured us we will see a little Russell Wilson on Friday night at State Farm Stadium, and who might the Cardinals feature? We don't know yet. In the meantime, how about some mailbag? Questions have been edited for length and clarity. You can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From Juan de la Pena:

"Hi Darren, who do you think is the player who has the best chance of leaving the PUP list before the start of the season? Thank you."

Funny you should ask that before BJ Ojulari came off the PUP list only to have your question be published after Ojulari came off the PUP list. So yeah, it's the rookie linebacker, and hopefully he can make some inroads to be able to impact something on the field soon. Beyond him, I don't know, but I think tight end Zach Ertz was hopeful to be practicing before the end of the preseason. We will see.

From Philip Meyer:

"I need some Marquis Hayes updates. Big Mo was looking nice last year prior to the injury. Curious if he can compete for a spot."

Jonathan Gannon said the second-year guard is "getting better" and liked the spot he was in. I do think he's got a chance to make the roster but the preseason games will mean a lot.

From Jimmy Anderson:

"Whatever happened to TE Maxx Williams? Did the Cardinals have a falling out with him? I just remember his energy and attitude over the last few years and seems like he would be a nice addition to compete in the tight end room especially if we don't know the timing of Ertz return."

No one will ever argue the energy and attitude of Williams, especially the Cardinals. But the reality is, after his significant foot injury in 2021, he just physically was unable to do what was needed anymore. Never say never but I got the sense last year that Williams knew his future in the league was in doubt. I loved what Williams brought and I wish he was still around. I understand why he is not.

From Jayson Wing:

"At wide receiver, Brown, Dortch and Moore are all 5'9" and shorter. Therefore , are Wilson and Pascal, who are both 6'2" (barring injures and signing and additional wide receivers) locks to making team at this point?"

Yes. I'm not sure that's just because of their size -- Pascal has been a productive wideout in this league and Wilson was a third-round pick -- but yes, they need the size. There is little question this front office prize bigger receivers than the previous regime.

From Tom Cowley:

"Hi Darren. How banged up are our prospects going into our first game this week. It looks like several big names are on the DL very early on. Is this real or is coach just being cautious? Also we need to see something legit from the top draftees. What is your take on their status? Hope you will clear this concern up for us. Thanks."

There are a few injuries, just like every team in training camp. Jonathan Gannon plays injuries very close to the vest, so I'm thinking it's always going to be a little bit of a guessing game to how serious it was. Many of those guys came back to practice this week, but the reality is, it's the preseason. If there is a guy nicked up, there is no reason to force him out there. As for the draft picks, Paris Johnson is going to play. But second-round LB BJ Ojulari just came off PUP and I'd be surprised if they put him in a game already. Third-round CB Garrett Williams remains on the NFI list.

From Brad Penn:

"Hi Darren. Long time reader, first time writer. To save some clicks, I'll just summarize my questions here.

  1. Is BJ Ojulari full go now, or is he still going get rolled out slowly in camp?
  2. What's wrong with Myjai's hand? Is it broke? Is he going on IR, or is it minor?
  3. Antonio Hamilton was pushing for a starting role the past few years, but has been extremely quiet this year. As the vet, why is he not headlining the No. 2 job across from Marco?
  4. The gameday roster was expanded from 53 to 55 this offseason. Do you think that'll have any impact?
  5. The internet hype around Michael Wilson has reached epic proportions, leading some to believe he might be the No. 2 WR out the gate. What have you observed, and do you think the hype is justified?"

Hey Brad. I'll summarize my answers here.

  1. I would guess there will be a little slow-playing. He did do some 11-on-11 in his first practice but he has not done much of anything all offseason and he has had hamstring issues. They will be smart.
  2. Sanders was back at practice with a wrap on his hand. He can play with it.
  3. I think this staff wants to see what they have in their young cornerbacks. They can always turn to Hamilton if needed.
  4. Game day rosters have not been expanded to 55. Teams can have as many as 48 players available on game day, and you can elevate two guys from the practice squad in addition to your 53-man roster to choose those 48 from.
  5. I have been impressed with Wilson so far, but this team hasn't played one preseason game yet and I have seen plenty of receivers over the years that haven't translated into the regular season. I like what he brings to the table but I'm going to hold off on anything epic right now.

From John David Lair:

"If Kyler Murray starts the season on PUP, when can he come back by?"

If Murray remains on the PUP list to start the season, he cannot practice or play for the first four weeks. After that he can come off the PUP list at any time, knowing that he'll need to go through some practice time before they use him in a game.

From Dennis Palmer:

"Hey Darren, first of all, big fan of your mailbox. I've been now wondering for years why it's so hard to hear the reporters' questions at press conferences. I mean I get why we don't hear them. They don't use a mic. But doesn't it bother you, too, when you can only hear your questions at best indistinctly in the video? For the most part, I always have to guess what the question was based on the player's/coach's answer. Super annoying. And even harder for a non-English native speaker. Is there a chance that something will be done about it? Best greetings from Germany."

I appreciate the request. I can bring it up. But again, and I have talked about this before, the press conferences -- at least the daily ones -- have ended up posting full to watch more out of happenstance. They were never really intended to be watched as a stand-alone. They are for writers to gather quotes for their stories and other outlets to post soundbites in produced stories. I'm not sure there is an easy way to get the questions at camp given the logistics; it's not like a presser to introduce a coach, let's say, it's more laid back, reporters sit wherever and basically shout out questions, and there isn't going to be a mic passed around, not with everything else that happens post-practice. It's better during pressers at the facility where we all sit in a smaller room and there is a mic that can pick up most of the questions.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Do you feel the leaders of the locker room like Budda Baker would be OK if the coaches did what the media says to do and just try to tank and give up their year? Also, do you like the Hall of Fame game? I think it would be better if they moved it to preseason game 2 for two teams so there's more first team players playing. Thank you again for the mailbag. I have faith in this team I think there's a chance we could surprise a lot of people."

For starters, no one is tanking. Coaches want to be successful in their jobs just like players. It does them no good to lose. Can a rebuilding team have a harder time doing that? No doubt. But the idea Jonathan Gannon would go out thinking "this is a throwaway year" is ludicrous. That isn't to say someone like Baker doesn't wish the team would have added some other players. As for the Hall of Fame game, it's the preseason. Preseason games are preseason games, no matter when they are played.

From Art Pozza:

"Colt McCoy has done a lot for the Cardinals. I agree Colt should be the starter to begin the season, but I'm afraid he cannot hold up physically. How many games did he miss? My prediction is that QB Clayton Tune will be starting before K1 returns."

You could be right and Tune could be in the lineup. But he's a rookie and a fifth-round pick and making that transition to starting NFL quarterback wouldn't be easy by any stretch. I still think McCoy gives the Cardinals their best quarterback until Murray returns. If McCoy got hurt, then sure, I could see Tune. But again, we will see how this plays out.

From Dirk Ohnemus:

"Hi Darren, greeting from Germany. Hope you are doing well! I have a really important question. Why there are the new black jerseys not available in the shop?"

Dirk, you are not the only one to ask. Those should be available sooner rather than later, but as of right now I do not have a timetable on them. I have asked, and there is no clarity quite yet. I appreciate your patience.

From Tim Tekulve:

"Darren, I'm already excited in anticipation for this year and hope you are too. Although I don't expect a great win/loss record, I'll be supporting the Cards all season long. That being said, I'll go to an away stadium to root on the Cardinals. What are your favorite stadiums to visit on our away schedule this year?"

It's funny because for me, the road trips are usually more about the city, since I am in the press box during games and don't really "experience" the stadium like a fan would. That said, going to stadium we don't usually go to is cool, so I look forward to going to Pittsburgh this season. I also think Seattle is nice, even after they tightened up the press box seating.

From Christopher Moya-Hernandez:

"Will the Arizona Cardinals surprise the whole NFL?"

Well Christopher, that's the big question, isn't it? I'd feel better about it if Kyler Murray was healthy. But I am interested to see the JG experience in regular-season action.