Cardinals utilizing Antoine Wesley while star wideout is out
By Jim Koch
The former Texas Tech University product has contributed to an Arizona Cardinals squad that’s been missing DeAndre Hopkins.
An iron man throughout most of his professional career, the great DeAndre Hopkins has now missed three consecutive games for the Arizona Cardinals. In his absence, the team has turned to an unheralded wide receiver to help pick up the slack.
Antoine Wesley, an under-the-radar pickup by Arizona back in May, has been a pleasant surprise for Kliff Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” attack. It just so happens that the offense is a familiar one for Wesley, who actually played for the Cards head coach a few years back at Texas Tech University.
In nine appearances this season, the talented Wesley has been targeted 11 times by Cardinals passers. Every one of the balls thrown the Las Vegas native’s way have come over the past few weeks, while Hopkins has been sidelined with a hamstring injury. Wesley has hauled in eight of the targets, compiling 113 yards and averaging an impressive 14.1 yards per reception.
Wesley has come through in crucial spots for the Redbirds as well, converting five of the catches into first downs. The 6-foot-4, 206-pounder’s biggest play came in Week 9 against the San Francisco 49ers when he took a 33-yard pass from fellow receiver Christian Kirk down to the Niners’ one-yard line. Kingsbury issued a challenge, arguing that Wesley had actually scored on the play, but the call was upheld.
Arizona Cardinals wideout starred for Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech
The 24-year-old Wesley did not come into his own at Texas Tech until 2018, his junior campaign at the school. In fact, the numbers that the youngster posted that year are probably the sole reason he was given an opportunity to play in the NFL.
In 12 contests that season for the Red Raiders, Wesley registered an eye-popping 88 receptions for 1,410 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. The pass-catcher distinguished himself as a downfield threat during the campaign, averaging an outstanding 16 yards per catch.
In May of 2019, Wesley signed as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens. The rookie spent time on the club’s practice squad and was then inked to a reserve/futures contract by Baltimore in January of 2020. In August of that year, the Ravens placed Wesley on the injured-reserve list with a shoulder issue.
Wesley’s journey then led him to Arizona, where he’s been given a chance to compete at the highest level. The injury to Hopkins opened a door that the rangy wideout gladly stepped through. Wesley can thank Kingsbury, his former college coach, for the marvelous opportunity that the Cards have handed him.