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Cardinals WR Hakeem Butler has hand fracture, could land on IR

Hakeem Butler #17 of the Arizona Cardinals catches a pass prior to the start of the NFL pre-season game against the Los Angeles Chargers at State Farm Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver battle has been one to watch in training camp and the preseason, and one of the team’s players at that position is down with an injury.

Hakeem Butler, a rookie pass-catcher whom the Cardinals drafted in the fourth round this year, has an avulsion fraction in his hand “and is a candidate for injured reserve,” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed the injury moments later.

“I think just when you have his height, size, speed, that’s an element that you want on your roster,” Kingsbury said. “If he’s not available, it’s hard to find 6-5 guys, 6-6 guys that run sub-4.5 (second 40-yard dashes). Other guys will step up.”

A trio of rookies — Butler, Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson — have been a significant part of the narrative as it relates to how the Cardinals can improve on a wide receiving core that last year featured little else beyond Larry Fitzgerald and then-rookie Christian Kirk. The Cardinals’ third- and fourth-leading offensive players in receiving yards in 2018 were running back David Johnson and tight end Ricky Seals-Jones.

Butler will now miss developmental time, although he wasn’t in the mix to play as he was behind the two other rookie wide receivers on the depth chart.

“He’s a guy who has a ton of ability and we’re hoping that we’d be able to kind of see what he could do during preseason, but he won’t play anymore in the preseason and we’ll kind of take it from there,” Kingsbury said.

Without Butler, the Cardinals will still have receiving options in Fitzgerald, Kirk, Isabella and KeeSean Johnson, along with Trent Sherfield, Pharoh Cooper, Kevin White and Damiere Byrd.

Butler, drafted 103rd overall out of Iowa State, stands at 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds, adding what would’ve been an imposing physical presence at the wideout position. Last year for the Cyclones, Butler put up 1,318 receiving yards with nine touchdowns on 60 catches.

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