Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians calls the first day of rookie mini-camp “one of the most exciting days of the year”. It’s one of his first chances to see the newest draft picks as well as players trying to earn one of those coveted 53 roster spots by the time the season kicks off.
One of those trying to make it is former San Antonio Reagan and Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight. Knight signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Cardinals and participated in his first practice with the team. He called it a good day for him but has also spent his time in the desert trying to slow things down and take everything in stride.
“They throw a lot at you,” Knight said following practice on Friday in Tempe, “The first day is a little bit chaotic especially when you’re trying to learn a new offense in 24 hours. But the coaches understand that it’s not going to be perfect. They just want to see how you react to it, how you handle the stress, how you handle one mistake but don’t make it again.”
According to Arians, the rookies will have learned about 90 percent of the playbook by the time camp breaks on Sunday. To make matters more difficult, Knight enters a crowded quarterback competition as one of of five signal callers (including fellow rookie Antonio Pipkin) on the Cardinals roster entering the weekend. But with Carson Palmer recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Knight sees his opportunity and is only focusing on what he can control.
“If you’re always looking over your shoulder and worried about a quarterback battle, you’re not going to play as well as you want to,” he said. “As far as yourself goes and your own future, you have to put your head down and get to work. I’m just taking it day by day, putting my head down and playing quarterback for the Cardinals and hoping for the best.”
Early results indicate that Knight is off to a good start and earned praise from his new head coach following the first practice.
“I was really impressed with Trevor (and fellow rookie Antonio Pipkin),” Arians said, “His (Trevor’s) arm is healthy again. I think he threw one well over 55 yards at one point. You can see what he brings to the position in terms of athleticism and he showed it off today.”
It’s Knight’s athleticism that makes him such an intriguing prospect. He tested well at the NFL Combine and there had been some speculation that he could make a position change. But Knight believes he has what it takes to make it as a quarterback.
“From the beginning, I came in confident that I can play quarterback in this league,” he said. “I had a pretty crazy college career with lots of ups and downs but this last year just made me feel confident that I can play quarterback at a high level.”
It’s a different case for his Aggie teammate Ricky Seals-Jones as he’s moved over from wide receiver to tight end. But having a familiar face to throw the ball to is something that Knight enjoys having and is helping make the process a little easier.
“It definitely makes it more comfortable in the sense that you have someone you can sit in the hotel room at night and go over plays together and you know each other’s tendencies,” Knight said about his teammate, “It’s definitely a leg up but getting to get to know all these other guys as the weekend goes on is going to be beneficial as well.”
As for his head coach, Arians knows that this is only the start of a long journey not just for Knight but for the other 56 players taking part of the rookie minicamp in Tempe.
“This is the beginning of the building,” Arians said, “We always talk about how we won’t be the Cardinals until we get to 53. Right now, it’s 90 guys looking for a job.”
Even with what’s at stake, Knight is enjoying the moment and the new stage he finds himself on in Arizona.
“It’s a dream for me,” he said, “I’ve been dreaming for this moment since I was four or five years old and to come out here and be at practice is really a dream come true. Sometimes during the grind of it, you lose sight of that but you have to remember that you’re playing football for a living now and it’s a pretty cool deal.”
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