Dealing Cards: Injuries rise, Barnes picks football over homeschooling kids

Dec 13, 2017, 6:31 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2017, 11:57 am
New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Khalif Barnes (69) leaves the field after an NFL preseason foot...
New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Khalif Barnes (69) leaves the field after an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

TEMPE, Ariz. – The list of names rivaled that of a child’s wish list for Christmas.

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians rattled off nine players who did not practice on Wednesday. Three, however, were not injury related and two should be back on the field Thursday, hopefully.

The Cardinals have been bit by the injury bug more than most teams. It’s one of the reasons, if not the main reason, for the team’s subpar season, which for the second consecutive year will end without a playoff appearance.

Heading into Week 15, the Cardinals have had 24 different players combine to miss 126 total games this season.

“You try to have players who can, hopefully, fill in the voids and then tailor it around them. You really can’t have two offenses (or defenses)—one for this team and one for that team—if injuries happen,” Arians said. “(General manager) Steve (Keim) does a great job of fitting guys in that we like and then you just keep tailoring it down and weaning it down until they can be successful.”

Between the Cardinals and Washington Redskins, the Cardinals’ opponent this week, there will be 31 players either on the sidelines or elsewhere watching the game because they are on injured reserve.

Earlier this week, left tackle Jared Veldheer became the Cardinals’ 13th player to land on injured reserve, including seven Week 1 starters. The team has lost its starting quarterback (Carson Palmer), running back (David Johnson), left guard (Mike Iupati), right tackle (D.J. Humphries), safety (Tyvon Branch) and outside linebacker (Markus Golden); not to mention a kickoff/punter returner (T.J. Logan) and long snapper (Aaron Brewer).

By comparison, of the 18 players the Redskins have on injured reserve, 12 are starters or key backups.

“There’s nothing else you can do but deal with it. So, we just have to get the next guy ready to play,” head coach Jay Gruden told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. “It’s been quite a challenge, but our guys are dealing with it.”

First injury report

The nine players who missed practice included safeties Budda Baker (thigh) and Antoine Bethea (knee), linebacker Gabe Martin (hamstring), defensive lineman Josh Mauro (ankle), running back Adrian Peterson (neck) and right guard Earl Watford (ankle). Linebacker Karlos Dansby, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and defensive lineman Frostee Rucker received veteran days off.

Baker and Bethea are expected to practice Thursday, according to Arians, who had no further update on Peterson.

“I have no idea,” he said, when asked if Peterson would play again this year.

Four more players were listed limited: left guard Alex Boone (back), wide receiver John Brown (toe), linebacker Chandler Jones (hip) and defensive lineman Corey Peters (ankle).

“Got Corey back and he looked pretty solid,” Arians said.

The new guy

With Veldheer done for the season and Watford likely to miss one, maybe two games, the Cardinals needed offensive line help. Enter Khalif Barnes, an 11-year veteran who has been away from the game after spending the preseason with New Orleans.

For Barnes, the Cardinals called at the perfect time.

“I was homeschooling four kids. Have you ever done that before?” he asked reporters Wednesday. “That’s worse than any 9-on-7 or any player in the league. I’d rather go against the old-school Dwight Freeney, Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White, all of them in one game than have to homeschool and baby-sit these kids.”

Barnes and his wife have four kids—two boys and two girls—ages 2, 4, 5 and 7.

“It’s rough, man, so I’m glad to be here,” he said.

Barnes had been taking an online medical sales course—“Getting ready for the next step in my life,” he said—when his agent called on Sunday, telling him of the Cardinals’ interest.

Barnes had worked out with San Francisco the week before and doing his best to stay in shape “just in case somebody did call me” since his release by the Saints.

“It’s one thing to train at home when you’re home but it’s nothing to come here and train with guys who are 300 pounds, big, fast, moving and you got to put body weight on them but it was pretty good I thought,” he said of his first practice with the Cardinals.

“It felt good getting my feet wet. I think tomorrow will be even better and as the days come it’ll be like just getting on a bike. I mean, I’m not on the ground dying right now so I’ve been doing a few things right.”

Barnes has played in 151 career games, including 117 starts, between stints with Jacksonville and Oakland

“I love it. I love the o-line coaches here. You got a good group of guys. You got good leadership here,” he said. “I’m really happy to be here. I don’t care how long it’s for. I’m just happy they considered calling me.”

Roster move

Two days after getting released, wide receiver Carlton Agudosi was re-signed to the practice squad. He was inactive for three games after being elevated to the active roster on Nov. 22.

Agudosi joined the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent in May out of Rutgers and spent the preseason with the team until he was released on Sept. 2.

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Dealing Cards: Injuries rise, Barnes picks football over homeschooling kids