2016 Wuerffel Trophy Recipient Understands His Role with the Arizona Cardinals
By: Andrew Vailliencourt, The Republic | azcentral.com
Trevor Knight walked off the field in his black No. 1 practice jersey on Friday, but instead of heading straight to his scheduled radio appearance, he had three other jerseys to drop off, No. 3, No. 5 and No. 7.
Rookie duty calls.
Knight understands it. He did it to freshmen in college and he hopes that someday he will have the opportunity to have his pads carried off the field by rookies.
With Carson Palmer sitting out most of practice, it’s given Knight, who signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent, more time on the field gaining experience behind fellow quarterbacks Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert.
“Those guys need their rest and they deserve their rest,” Knight said. “Carson especially has been doing this for a long time and needs a couple days off. I take advantage of that, because then I get all the three reps, and it’s live reps. You can sit in a film room and be in a room and learn stuff out of a book all day long, but there’s no substitute for actually getting out there and running through it and seeing it live. That’s been unbelievable for me.”
Knight, who started at Oklahoma before transferring to Texas A&M, threw for 2,432 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season with the Aggies. He also ran for 610 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Trevor got better yesterday,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “We did some things that weren’t in his comfort zone, but he’s progressing. This is a lot on his plate, to learn this offense.”
Arians said Knight’s comfort zone right now is “running the hell out of the ball and throwing long passes.”
The biggest hurdle Knight faces right now is learning the playbook, which is much easier said than done. The Cardinals have a complex offensive system, and getting it all down will take time.
“I’m taking my lumps just as any rookie would, learning a new offense and making mistakes, but they’re little mistakes,” Knight said. “It’s all about not making the same mistake twice and getting better each day. You’re playing quarterback, you’re always going to make a few mistakes here and there. It’s about eliminating those mistakes and getting the ball in your playmakers hands.”
Knight chose signing with the Cardinals for a multitude of reasons. Arians’ track record with quarterbacks was a major factor, as was the situation at quarterback. Knight said he wanted the opportunity to learn from a veteran like Palmer.
Not only will he do that, but Knight will likely play significant minutes in all five preseason games. The team will hold Palmer back to avoid injury and putting too large of a workload on his arm before the real action begins.
He’s already picked up a few words of wisdom from the other quarterbacks in his time in Arizona.
“They’ve said just don’t get down on yourself,” Knight said. “Stay confident, you’re going to make mistakes when you’re a young guy, but keep your head on straight and go to the next play and you’re going to be alright.”
In addition to the playbook, Knight will be working on his reads and pre-snap adjustments. Making sure he has the protections down is crucial for his ability to feel comfortable in the pocket. Knight said learning a new playbook can be like learning a new language, and the sooner he knows it, life will be easier.
“You’ve got to be able to know the playbook before you can worry about anything else,” Knight said. “Know the plays inside and out so you’re don’t have to be thinking so much when you go up to the line of scrimmage.”
With three other experienced quarterbacks on the roster, the likelihood of Knight making the 53-man roster appears slim barring an injury or trade. However, crazier things have happened in the NFL. The practice squad is also a strong possibility, and would be a place that he could stay within the organization and continue to develop – something that could be beneficial to both Knight and the Cardinals in the future.
“Right now it’s all about competing against yourself,” Knight said. “You play yourself into any position you’re going to be in. So if I play the best I can, people way higher than me are going to make those decisions.”
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