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TEMPE – Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson had a big goal this offseason: He wanted to work even more closely with quarterback Kyler Murray.

And what’s the best way to do that? By devoting extra time and effort outside of organized team activities and the mandatory mini-camp.

Done and done – even if it meant “a little counterattack” from someone who wasn’t on the list.

“What I’m most excited about and proud of is that I’ve been able to continue to build my relationship with Kyler,” Wilson said Tuesday. “I think it’s been great. We’ve been playing at different high schools every weekend. I’ve been here pretty much every weekend during OTAs so I could practice with K1.”

“I told my girlfriend that I wasn’t coming to Portland every weekend. I was staying here so I could work on my relationship with Kyler. It was really incredible. I can’t put into words how great it was.”

When operating in an offense that relies on rhythm and timing rather than feel, that extra time on task can make all the difference in continually building chemistry and trust between quarterback and receiver.

Last year, Wilson – and other wide receivers on the roster – didn’t have that luxury due to the signal caller’s torn ACL and subsequent rehab.

Things will be different in 2024, however, as Wilson and the others will be able to work with Murray at the training facility for four to five days on weekends during the offseason, in addition to fine-tuning.

And the first results were promising.

“I feel like the OTAs were as seamless and flawless as I could have hoped for,” Wilson said. “I think there were less than three balls on the floor between me and him the whole time.”

This extra work is nothing new for Wilson. Just like rookies Marvin Harrison Jr. and Murray, he sometimes needs to be held back a little to keep from overdoing it.

It’s that dedication to his craft, coupled with his growing chemistry with Murray, that has Gannon and others expecting big things from Wilson after he flashed as a rookie.

“Ultimately, the performance on the field is what is going to be judged, but how he achieves that performance on the field on a daily basis, I’m convinced that he’s going to take a leap forward in every way with what he’s doing – schematically, technically, physically, his health, what’s between his ears,” Gannon said Tuesday. “He’s going to take a leap forward in all those buckets, as I call them.”

“That gives him a chance to step up his game and help us win. I really like Mike. He’s as smart as can be, as competitive as can be, working on his craft, working on his game. … He’s going to have a good year.”

And as for making amends with his girlfriend, Sophia Smith of Portland Thorns FC, Wilson has that under control, too.

“Those were probably the most games I’ve been able to attend this year. … I’ve seen all six (Gold Cup games) and I think I’ve been to two or three home games in Portland.

“I deserve some rest and will spend some time with her after these OTAs.”

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