Former UofA Wildcat given one last chance to impress

Arizona Sports News online

Dan Buckner is living the dream but he’s not oblivious to the situation.

Such is the life for rookie undrafted free-agents trying to stick on NFL rosters with the regular season just days away.

Sure, rookie free-agents have made it and some made it big (Wes Welker, Rod Smith, Josh Cribbs to name a few) but the reality of cracking a 53-man roster is a long shot at best competing against other first-year players or league veterans with more game experience.

The former University of Arizona standout who started all 13 games as a senior last fall (773 receiving yards, five touchdowns) has had limited opportunities in the pre-season, catching just two passes for 23 yards. He’ll have one more chance to impress new head coach Bruce Arians and his staff Thursday night in the Red Birds exhibition finale against the Broncos in Denver.

“Camp’s going well,” Buckner told after a recent practice. “It’s a long process. [Pre-season] is going to be over at the end of the week. I’m just working to get better. At this point and time we pretty much have the offense pretty much installed. I’m just trying to learn it.”

The Cardinals likely will keep five, possibly six wide receivers and the competition got even tighter when the Red Birds signed another UofA product, former Jacksonville Jaguar and Detroit Lion Mike Thomas.

The hope for Buckner if he can’t land a spot here in Arizona is to attract the attention of another team around the league who’s looking to add depth heading into the grind of the season.

“It’s a resume for the whole league,” he explained to “Not just [the Cardinals] but everyone else.”

The Cardinals and Broncos kick off at 5:00 Arizona time. The Red Birds open the regular season in St. Louis September 8 against the Rams.