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Young Players Under Spotlight In Red & White Practice

Scrimmage-like event still scheduled for Friday morning

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jace Whittaker during training camp on August 13, 2020.
CB Jace Whittaker will be among the undrafted free agents aiming to impress the coaching staff in the "Red & White Practice powered by COX."

The Cardinals players were given Thursday off in deference to the racial equality fight many of them are waging.

On Friday, the team is expected to return to State Farm Stadium, with the "Red & White Practice powered by COX" scheduled to proceed, coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

The Cardinals will not have any preseason games this year because of COVID-19, so the scrimmage-like event will be one of the bigger opportunities to make an impression for those battling for a roster spot.

The practice runs from 9:30 a.m. to noon and much of the action will be aired on Saturday in a two-hour special beginning at approximately 8 p.m. on 12 News KPNX-TV.

Kingsbury said on Wednesday morning that the coaching staff would use the unique practice to evaluate the young players closely.

"Knowing that this is being filmed for a television audience – the lights are on – how those guys react to that situation," Kingsbury said. "Obviously it's less intense than when the fans are there, but they know what they are playing for and they know people are watching. We want to ramp that up a little bit and see how they handle that type of pressure. More than anything, a young guy emphasis to see who steps up when their number is called in that environment."

Kingsbury said the undrafted free agents have been at a disadvantage this year because offseason work was canceled and training camp was shortened.

"What's tough is, you're just now getting to know them," Kingsbury said. "You didn't get to learn their work habits and how they retain information throughout an offseason. This is fast and furious. They're not getting as many reps."

Even so, Kingsbury said some of the youngsters are making an impression. Cornerback Jace Whittaker, an undrafted free agent from the University of Arizona, was recently praised for his performance by Patrick Peterson.

Kingsbury didn't delve into specifics but said there are undrafted players who are pushing for a spot on the roster.

"Guys have definitely caught our eye," he said.

The Red & White Practice will be played amid a racial equality movement that has hit a fever pitch since the death of George Floyd in May. Reminders of the coronavirus will also be on display, as coaches are expected to be wearing masks as they have been throughout camp.

Many football coaches are notorious for their one-track minds, but Kingsbury knows balance is integral during a pivotal time in the nation's history.

"It's about perspective, and we want to make sure our players understand that we do have that," Kingsbury said. "At times football takes a backburner to those things, and we want to make sure that at the end of the day they know we support them, and their safety, and their right to voice their opinion over all else. I think our players understand that."


According to the NFL Transactions list, the Cardinals cut cornerback B.W. Webb Thursday. He had been signed last week.