Coming off bye, Cardinals have fingers crossed for healthy roster
TEMPE, Ariz. — It was nice to enter the bye week at the midway point of the season coming off a win.
It was nice the Arizona Cardinals saw their rookie quarterback lead a fourth-quarter comeback with his new offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich, debuting at the controls following Mike McCoy’s firing.
It was nice the week off let some injured Cardinals heal.
But reality hits hard and fast out of the break, and Monday Arizona regrouped to begin preparations to face the 8-1 Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
“Dynamic in every area, particularly on the offensive side of the ball,” Wilks said of the week’s task. “It’s just about eliminating the big plays.”
Defensively, the Cardinals hope that doing so in the passing game will be possible with safety Tre Boston, who has been out with rib and shoulder injuries since an Oct. 14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
“Today I went out, hit the sleds, you know, just trying to show them I’m ready to go if they say I’m ready to go,” Boston said Monday. “It’s really just a fight between me and them. Too often in our minds as athletes, we want to come back early … Right now we’re fighting that thin line of being a competitor and being smart and helping my team out for the long-run.”
The Cardinals, Wilks said, believe there’s a chance they can give the Chiefs their best shot with a completely healthy roster.
Adding depth over the break was the challenge.
That was one reason why Arizona released former starting quarterback Sam Bradford over the weekend, eating the rest of the veteran’s $15 million contract.
“… from the standpoint of need, position-wise throughout the year, particularly this time with guys getting hurt, we did what we thought was best for the team,” Wilks said Monday. “We needed that position to be able to add quality depth to different positions on the team.”
Arizona also moved offensive lineman John Wetzel (neck) to the injured reserved list.
One of the two open roster spots was filled Monday when the Cardinals re-signed veteran receiver Kendall Wright. The other was filled by Zack Golditch from the Indianapolis Colts practice squad.
As for the notable injured players, the same push-and-pull between Cardinals training staff and player is happening with right guard Justin Pugh, who has missed a month since suffering a hand injury. He’s failed to bring enough to the table with his hand wrapped since then.
“If I can’t use my hand, if I can’t use my fingers to grab and hold on, I become a liability out there,” Pugh said, adding he believes he is close to finding a way to play.
Concerns about the depth deepen after Arizona lost Wetzel, the Swiss Army Knife for an injury-plagued offensive line over the past few years. He was put on the injured reserve for the rest of the year due to a neck injury that Pugh said the backup played through before the bye week.
Arizona enters Week 10 still looking for offensive line stability. Only left tackle D.J. Humphries and rookie Mason Cole having played every game so far.
“That’s the NFL though. There’s a-hundred-percent chance of injury in the NFL,” Pugh said.
CREDIT TO BRADFORD
Wilks spoke for the first time since Bradford’s release on Saturday and said he had a say in the decision to release the quarterback, who since a Week 3 loss to the Seahawks didn’t start, didn’t play and wasn’t on the active roster come gametime.
“Sam is the ultimate pro, the way he handled the situation,” Wilks said. “When I made the decision to move forward with (starting quarterback Josh Rosen), he didn’t waiver in his commitment to the team. He still came in here and worked hard each and every day, and he did everything he could to help mentor this room — and I commend him for that.”
LEFTWICH ADDING MORE
When the Cardinals turned to Leftwich with one game before the bye week, they took advantage of allowing the promoted quarterbacks coach to use a long week — Arizona fired McCoy after a Thursday game against Denver — to prepare his players for his play-calling.
A full two weeks after that has allowed even more changes to be implemented, Wilks admitted without giving away any hints about how Arizona’s offense will attack the Chiefs.
“You can see Byron trying to evolve and move this offense in another direction,” Wilks said.
BOSTON READY FOR PARENTHOOD
Tre Boston announced on social media on Sunday that he is expecting his first child.
And in speaking about the news, he revealed a fun fact about himself as a baby.
“It’s my first so everybody just pray for health on my baby, because I can imagine how freakish it’s going to come out,” he said. “I was walking at six months. Just letting y’all know. Momma took me to the doctors, doctor said, ‘Nothing wrong with your baby. It’s just a freak.’ It’s been history every since.”