For Cardinals rookie Kirk, familiarity breeds comfort

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Christian Kirk grew up a Cardinals fan and looked up to Larry Fitzgerald. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Christian Kirk grew up a Cardinals fan and looked up to Larry Fitzgerald. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
“Christian’s real quiet,” said Fitzgerald. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) “Christian’s real quiet,” said Fitzgerald. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Kirk returned home when the Cardinals selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Kirk returned home when the Cardinals selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
He’s expected to handle punt returning duties as a Cardinals rookie. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) He’s expected to handle punt returning duties as a Cardinals rookie. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

In his 15 NFL seasons, Larry Fitzgerald has seen his fellow Cardinal receivers come and go – probably so much that at times it may have seemed like there was a revolving door between the locker room and the parking lot. 

Fitz has played with them all – short ones, tall ones, fast ones and slow ones but when it comes to rookie Christian Kirk – this may be the first time Fitzgerald’s found himself next to a quiet one.

“Christian’s real quiet,” said Fitzgerald. “He talks a little bit here in there but he basically keeps to himself.”

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Cardinals]

Fitzgerald’s observation makes sense. Kirk is keeping his mouth closed and his ears open – after all, not every NFL rookie gets to play alongside the player he grew up idolizing.

“It’s a little different obviously at first,” said Kirk as the Cardinals wound down their June minicamp. “You feel his presence. You know what type of guy he is but now he’s my teammate and that’s how I look to him. I look to him for a lot of advice just because he’s seen everything. Any little question I have, I’m not afraid to ask it. He’s always there to answer it. It’s great to have him to learn from.”

[RELATED: Charge dropped against Cardinals rookie Christian Kirk over rock-throwing incident]

Growing up a Cardinal fan, Kirk concluded an All-American high school career at Scottsdale Saguaro High School. As a Sabercat, Kirk gained over 5,000 all-purpose yards as a junior and senior. The five-star prospect committed to play college football at Texas A&M. After an electrifying three-year career as an Aggie, Kirk returned home when the Cardinals selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

[RELATED: Phoenix-area WR lives out dream, gets drafted by Cardinals]

After two months of off-season conditioning, OTA’s and a minicamp, Kirk is getting his initial doses of life in the National Football League.

“It’s fun,” said Kirk. “That’s the No. 1 thing. Just enjoying getting to know my teammates and going out there and working every day. This is your job now and you have to go out there and work at something you love and what you’ve been working towards your entire life.”

Kirk has not only found a friend in Fitzgerald, who he dines with every Friday night, but also fellow Saguaro Sabercat D.J. Foster. Foster, now a Cardinal running back, was a senior at Saguaro when Kirk was a freshman.

[RELATED: D.J.'s holdout opens the door for another D.J. at Cardinals]

“It’s awesome,” said Kirk. “That’s my big brother right there and we go way back. Just to be able to have him out there [is great]. I sit next to him in the team meeting room. Just to have a guy that I’ve known for so long and to be able to go to work with him his awesome.”

Kirk was the best punt returner in the nation during his three seasons at Texas A&M – totally six career touchdown returns. He’s expected to handle those duties as a Cardinals rookie. His role as a receiver though remains a work in progress.

[RELATED: Cardinals D.J. Foster returns to where it all started]

“The No.1 overall goal is just to contribute to winning games,” said Kirk. “I want to make an impact on the field and coaches ask me to make an impact on the field. [I want to] hopefully make this a special season.”

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