Michael Crabtree will make his Cardinals debut Sunday in Baltimore.
That the wide receiver played last season with the Ravens – totaling 54 catches for 607 yards and three touchdowns – before joining the Cards as a free agent in late August is notable. But it is secondary to him returning to the field, period.
“I haven’t been playing, I haven’t been here,” Crabtree said Wednesday. “Now I’m here, now it’s time to go.”
Coach Kliff Kingsbury said he doesn’t know yet what role Crabtree will play, only that he will play.
“He brings a lot of experience, a lot of savvy, a lot catches, a lot of physicality and I know he’ll be excited for this one,” Kingsbury said. “I’m excited to watch him work this week and see where he’s at.”
The Cardinals used primarily Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Damiere Byrd and KeeSean Johnson at receiver against the Lions. Johnson would seem the most likely to see snaps reduced with Crabtree’s inclusion.
Crabtree’s single season in Baltimore started strong – he had 41 receptions in his first nine games with Joe Flacco as starting quarterback. When Lamar Jackson, then a rookie, took over, the Ravens’ passing game wasn’t used nearly as much, and Crabtree had just 13 catches over the final seven games.
This offseason, the Ravens looked to get younger at wide receiver – their first-round pick was Kyler Murray’s college teammate, Marquise Brown – and cut Crabtree a season into what had been a three-year contract.
“I’m a big Michael Crabtree guy,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, noting how close Crabtree had gotten with the Harbaugh family during Crabtree’s tenure with he 49ers when brother Jim Harbaugh was coach. “I really enjoyed having him here. I really like him as a person and a player. I think he’s got a lot left. I thought it was really smart of Arizona (to sign him). He’s definitely on our radar defensively.”
Going into this weekend, Crabtree isn’t thinking about family or former teams.
“We’re going there to win the game,” Crabtree said. “See what I’m saying?”