Former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is set to make his Arizona Cardinals debut Saturday against the San Diego Chargers. (Photo courtesy of UCLA Athletics)
Originally published Friday, August 10, 2018 at 05:59a.m.
GLENDALE (AP) – Barring unforeseen circumstances, rookie Josh Rosen will begin his first NFL season on the sidelines as Arizona’s backup quarterback.
The preseason, though, will be his chance to shine, beginning Saturday night when the Cardinals play at home against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“We want him to play quite a bit and really get into the flow of the game,” coach Steve Wilks said.
Rosen said his two weeks of training camp have “gone really well.”
“I think I’ve gotten better pretty much every day since I’ve gotten here,” the former UCLA star said before Wednesday’ practice.
Sam Bradford is Arizona’s starter but the Cardinals view Rosen as their franchise quarterback of the future. Why else would they have moved up five spots in the draft to pluck him 10th overall?
Asked for specific areas of improvement since he became a pro, Rosen cites “a bunch of things.”
“The most tangible is probably the playbook,” he said. “I feel a lot more comfortable and fluid with it at the line of scrimmage. I’m focusing more and more with what the defense is trying to do to me rather than making sure I get the right snap count and in the right protection.”
He said he’s also picking up “the little things on how to use the double-cadence to try and buy yourself time and get someone offside, just little tricks of the trade I didn’t know when I was in college.”
From the beginning Bradford and Rosen seem to have gotten along well.
“Sam’s actually really good with all those little things,” Rosen said. “He’s a crafty vet and very successful for a lot of different reasons. He might not share every reason with me, but I’ll take advantage of the ones that he does.”
Bradford said Rosen “asks the right questions.”
“He’s hungry for information,” Bradford said. “It seems like he’s always trying to learn something. It doesn’t stop in the meeting rooms. Even at the dinner table he’ll ask me.
“It’s fun to be around someone like that and to hopefully try to be able to help him. I share with him some of the experiences I’ve had, some of the things I’ve learned over the years. Hopefully it can relate to him and can help him in some way.”
Wilks wouldn’t say how much Rosen will play on Saturday night but it will be long enough to do some serious evaluation.
“The mechanics of really running the offense,” Wilks said, “putting guys in the right position from a protection standpoint, going through his progression and reads and really just trying to detail the fundamentals.”
Rosen is running second on the depth chart, ahead of Mike Glennon, who also figures to play a lot Saturday.
Early in camp, Rosen said he was thinking too much.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better since then and continue to each day,” he said. “The less thinking you can do, the more you can allow yourself to physically do what I’ve been doing since Pop Warner, and play the game I know.”
As a big-name rookie quarterback, Rosen knows his every move will be scrutinized by fans and critics.
“It’s part of the game,” he said. “I stay relatively offline for the most part. The most pressure I feel from anyone is myself. I’m very, very highly self-critical, almost too much at times. There’s no pressure that should be greater than my own.”
There’s no changing his throwing style either, which includes an occasional sidearm toss on a bubble screen.
“It’s not just how hard or far you can throw it,” Rosen said. “It’s being able to change your arm slot and delivery. I think Aaron (Rodgers) is the best at it because sort of like mid-throw, your ability to throw sidearm to fit a quick screen in there or just kind of contort your body to get halfback screens and stuff in there.”
No one has tried to alter that style, he said.
“They drafted me for what I can do and I’m here to deliver that,” Rosen said.
He said he’s made preparation for the NFL a day-by-day process.
“Right now I’m fully in work mode,” he said. “I’m trying to be the best that I can be and over the course of my career I’m trying to win Super Bowls. And right now I’m trying to put my best foot forward in this preseason game.”