Through Eric D Williams
FOX Sports NFL Writer
Glendale, Arizona— Victor Bolden Jr. is back at the bottom of the depth chart after an impressive stint USFL.
Last month, the Oregon State product helped lead the Birmingham Stallions to the USFL Championship while earning MVP honors in the title game along the way.
Bolden translated that success into a spot on the 90-man Arizona Cardinals roster, for which he hopes to land wide receiver and returner jobs.
Season Highlights from Victor Bolden Jr
Watch the top highlights from Birmingham Stallions receiver/kick returner Victor Bolden, who was the USFL title game MVP before signing with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
For Bolden, it’s a return to the NFL after first earning a berth with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted rookie in 2017 and then having stints with the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions.
Bolden, now 27, knows the rise he has to impress with limited reps.
“I’ve got a full season under my belt, so I’m ready to be in shape,” Bolden told FOX Sports. “I really want to capitalize on that when I get out of here. I know I can play at the highest level so I’ll just keep showing what I can do.”
Bolden recorded 42 catches for 415 yards and one point for the Colts in the regular season, earning him All-USFL honors on offense. In the championship game that Birmingham won 33-30 against the Philadelphia Stars, he finished with six catches for 64 receiving yards and the game-winning score.
“To be honest, this kid really excelled,” Cardinals receivers coach Sean Jefferson told reporters of Bolden. “He’s another guy who can play both indoors and outdoors. He’s shady. He can make guys miss special teams. So in this group after those first couple of guys we have a fight going on across the board. I’m excited to see how it pans out.”
Bolden said he had additional motivation during the training camp: his 3-year-old son Zaire Isaiah.
“If you have a passion for doing something, keep pursuing it,” Bolden said. “I intend to. I want to do that. I have a young son and I just want to show him that good things can happen when you follow your passion.”
Bolden is one of 36 USFL players currently in NFL training camps, with 24 of 32 teams signing at least one player from the Spring League. Each of the eight USFL teams now has at least three players in camps — numbers that show the league is actually giving players another shot at the NFL.
Still, they will have to fight to make the 53-man roster.
“There’s a lot of talent in the USFL,” Bolden said. “Right now there are some people who haven’t had calls yet that would be a great addition to any team. So if they continue to do what they do, they will definitely be a feeder to the league for years to come.”
Bolden, who finished the regular season with 794 return yards for the Stallions, got work as a punter returner during camp. It’s another way he could find his way onto the cardinal list.
Cardinals reject Kyler Murray’s ‘homework clause’
Kyler Murray defended his place as one of the league’s top QBs after an independent study clause called his focus into question. Nick Wright and Chris Broussard examine the ripple effect that could overtake the Cardinals if they have a less-than-stellar season.
Arizona will be without star receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the regular season after violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Marquise Brown is returning from a hamstring injury and powerful receiver Antoine Wesley has a groin problem. So Bolden could get some time in Arizona’s first preseason game Friday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I have to take responsibility for learning the playbook and that way they can trust me,” Bolden said when asked what he needs to do to earn a roster spot. “Just gain my teammates’ trust so they can put me out there and be confident that I can play.
“You just have to rely on your experience. I’ve been playing professionally for about six years now, so I know how the game is going.”
How the game ends on Friday could be meaningful for Bolden.
Eric D. Williams has been covering the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
Get more out of the National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more.