Cardinals TE John Carlson made a play that didn’t count within a game that didn’t count.
Some would call that worthless, but Cardinals coach Bruce Arians knew its impact as he grinned from ear-to-ear when discussing it on Monday.
The veteran tight end chewed up No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney with an out-and-up route in the preseason opener against the Texans on Saturday night, finishing it with a 13-yard touchdown reception early in the first quarter. The score was called back for illegal use of the hands on center Ted Larsen, but it was an in-game glimpse of what Carlson has shown in practice for the past several months.
It has never been a question of talent with Carlson, who averaged 53 catches, 600 yards and six touchdowns per season in his first two years in the NFL with the Seahawks. Instead, it was the risk of concussions which allowed the Cardinals to take a low-risk flier – a two-year, $4.65 million deal with little guaranteed money – on him after the Vikings waived Carlson in March.
Carlson quickly ascended the depth chart upon arriving in Arizona and played seven snaps with the first-team offense against the Texans. While he didn’t officially record a catch, there seems to be little doubt Carlson can be a productive player if he can stay on the field. Carlson ranks just 25th on our list, but is ahead of teammate Jake Ballard, so we think there are better TE options out there.