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Rookie Wilson Prepared to Start When Opportunity Arrived

The fourth-round pick rookie from Florida has started in all three Arizona Cardinals games to start the 2021 NFL season.

Cardinals rookie cornerback Marco Wilson made sure that he was ready for his opportunity to contribute during the offseason. 

The fourth-round selection from Florida was not a starter on the depth chart during the preseason, but he told the media on Tuesday that he approached each day of training camp as if he was one. 

"Coming in, I honestly put that into my head right at the start because obviously this NFL season is long," Wilson said. "I knew regardless, I would probably have to play because you never know who's going to get banged up or anything. So every day in camp, I was coming in like preparing myself like I would have to start in any game."

His moment came sooner rather than later. 

Photo: Alex Weiner, Sports Illustrated

Offseason free-agent acquisition Malcolm Butler retired just before the season started after he missed practices for personal reasons. 

In turn, Wilson has had to start in all three games to begin the year. He even played every defensive snap on Sunday against the Jaguars despite suffering an ankle the week before against Minnesota. 

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph saw Wilson's debut in Week 1 as a promising start, especially mentally. 

"Watching him through the spring and watching him in camp, I knew he can play but sometimes it's too big for young guys early," Joseph said in Week 2. "It wasn't. Again, it wasn't perfect, guys, but he was relaxed, and he was playing against good people and he challenged."

Wilson attributes this to being prepared and trying to master the defensive playbook. He does not want to feel doubt while he is on the field, and this is an area he is continuing to grow in. 

It does not hurt to line up in practice against the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore.   

"It's amazing to have the opportunity to go against the best receivers in the league week-in and week-out, so I'm super thankful for that," Wilson said. "When it comes to Sunday, I feel prepared because I know I've been going against the best guys all week."

Wilson would agree with Joseph that it has not been a perfect start. He's a rookie and has not been a complete shutdown corner to this point. 

He's still adjusting to playing on Sundays instead of Saturdays, and dealing with how to best prepare himself each week during the taxing season. 

But, the way Wilson approached his offseason and his mindset going forward is that of continuing to have as many of answers he can and the rest will follow. 

He and the Cardinals secondary will have a tough challenge going up against the Los Angeles Rams' arsenal on Sunday.