Skip to main content

Cardinals' BJ Ojulari after giving No. 18 to Marvin Harrison Jr.: Your play will 'talk for you' no matter the number

Cardinals pass rusher BJ Ojulari has halved his jersey number.

That doesn't preclude his sophomore campaign from ending up at least twice as nice as his first.

Ojulari, who wore No. 18 for Arizona in 2023 but will now don No. 9, recently spoke on surrendering his original number to one of the team's incoming first-rounders, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

"(Marvin) wore 18 in college, I wore 18 in college, and it means a lot to both of us, but we all came to an agreement to let him have 18," Ojulari said, via the team's website. "He's going to be a big part of our offense this year and he's a great guy.

"He approached me. He gave me a call, we chopped it up, had a good conversation. We all ended up happy. I switched to a different number. It's all good. We're all going to make plays and win games."

With any luck, Ojulari's number change will coincide with a change in fortunes for the Cards, who have now finished last in AFC West two years in a row thanks to consecutive four-win seasons.

The transition might also represent Ojulari's NFL breakthrough if he's able to put together the campaign he believes he can have now that he's more seasoned.

"I'm expecting to take a big leap," he said, looking forward to Year 2.

The 22-year-old flashed skill last season as a second-round pick, but he's yet to fully acclimate himself as a difference maker. Although he played in all 17 games, he never made a start, and he managed just four contests in which he saw the field for over half of Arizona's defensive snaps.

He still took his role as a rotational rusher and turned it into four sacks, good for second on the team along with fellow edge Victor Dimukeje, but a big leap from Ojulari will indeed be needed to help boost Arizona's defense. Much like the Cardinals' consecutive seasons dwelling in the divisional basement, that unit has now ranked 31st in the league in scoring for two years running.

Ojulari's path to everyday starter will likely require passing Dimukeje, who started six games in 2023, and Dennis Gardeck, who led Arizona with six sacks while starting eight contests. That would place him on the edge opposite Zaven Collins, a 17-game starter last season who will be looking to make a statement of his own after the Cardinals declined his fifth-year rookie option.

Accomplishing that and producing bigger numbers than he did last season could render the jersey switch-up a simple footnote to a year in which Ojulari makes his mark.

"I like the idea, because single-digit guys make plays, especially coming off the edge," Ojulari said. "Having that little bit of swag, little kids looking up to you, they want to be No. 9. But at the end of the day, your play is going to talk for you, no matter what number you're wearing."

Related Content