For the second consecutive day, Cardinals cornerback Malcolm Butler was absent from practice amid reports he was considering retirement because of unknown personal issues.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury refused to talk about Butler or even contemplate what the team’s situation will be at the position heading to the season opener Sept. 12 at Tennessee.
After Tuesday's practice, Kingsbury said nothing is “official,” that “it remains to be seen” what will happen and would not talk about “hypotheticals.”
Three hours later, the Cardinals placed Butler on the reserve/retired list although he can return to the team at a later date. However, that obviously does nothing for the team in the short term.
Kingsbury did answer questions about other cornerbacks on the roster, saying, “We feel really good where we’re at.”
At the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday morning, cornerbacks on the field were Byron Murphy Jr., rookies Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan, and Luq Barcoo who was signed to the roster last week. Robert Alford, who has missed the last two seasons because of injuries, remains on reserve/COVID-19 where he has been since Aug. 26.
Not on the field were Daryl Worley and Jace Whittaker. Worley’s contract was terminated and Whittaker was placed on waivers. It wouldn’t be shocking to see both signed to the practice squad. Darqueze Dennard was placed on reserve/injured Monday because of a leg injury.
Kingsbury is especially pleased with Wilson, the team’s fourth-round draft pick from Florida.
“Marco’s emergence has been really impressive for a young guy to step in and compete the way he has,” Kingsbury said.
Asked if he believes Wilson could start, if necessary, Kingsbury said, “No question. He’s played at the highest level when you’re talking about college football trying to cover all those top receivers that come out every year whether its ‘Bama, LSU, Georgia. The moment’s not too big for him.”
Surely, Wilson benefited from getting first-team reps against the team’s talented receiver corps.
Kingsbury said, “It’s been big. You’re trying to cover A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk every snap. It’s definitely going to help you be prepared for Sundays.”
As for the other corners, Kingsbury said, “We like Tay’s skill set. We like what we’ve seen from Barcoo so far. He’s played in games. And obviously Robert’s an established player; looks really good physically, And DMurph continues to ascend to be able to play inside and outside. So we like the group that we have.”
Barcoo was claimed on waivers from Jacksonville on the day the Cardinals were playing Kansas City Aug. 20, but was then waived with a failed physical designation on Aug. 23. Two days later, he was re-signed and practiced two days before this week.
Kingsbury described Barcoo as “long and athletic. I like how he’s picked things up so far. He played in games last year (three). And we are anxious to work with him.”
Finally, Kingsbury addressed the status of Alford, who it’s hoped can return when practice begins again next Monday for the game against the Titans.
“He’s felt great,” Kingsbury said. “He’s been working out on his own. The symptoms have been minimal for him. I thought he looked really good physically throughout camp. I’m sure he’ll get back into playing game speed and handling what comes with that. But we like what we’ve seen from him.”