Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker has undergone successful hand surgery to repair a torn UCL in his thumb, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday.
Kingsbury did not put a timeline on Baker’s injury and said he hoped it was “sooner rather than later.” In doing so, the head coach did not rule the safety out for the Cardinals’ game Sunday against the Carolina Panthers but also didn’t commit to Baker’s expected absence to be a maximum of one game.
“I don’t want to put any timetables on it just yet. Knowing Budda and the kind of superhuman he is, you never know,” Kingsbury said. “But everything went well and we’re excited about that.”
Baker was not at the open portion of practice Wednesday, according to AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban, but receiver Christian Kirk (groin) and center Mason Cole (hamstring) were on the field. That duo of starters making progress is a positive sign for the Cardinals as they prepare for a Sunday road game against the Carolina Panthers.
Cole injured himself in Week 1, while Kirk got hurt in Week 2. Neither played last Sunday in Arizona’s 26-23 loss to the Detroit Lions.
Baker played through the thumb injury against Detroit, recording eight tackles, a stuff and a pass defensed. While wearing a heavy pad on his right thumb, Baker was also seen shaking out his left hand at points on Sunday, and Kingsbury was not sure about the severity of any injury on the safety’s other hand.
The Pro Bowler led the NFL with 104 solo tackles last season and through three weeks of 2020 is third with 22 solo tackles.
“There’s no question he’s one of the best players in the league and makes a lot of things right defensively when he’s back there,” Kingsbury said Monday. “We’ll see how the procedure goes and kind of take it from there, but hopefully sooner rather than later on that.”
The Cardinals were already stretched thin at safety before Baker’s thumb injury. They lost fellow starter Jalen Thompson (ankle) in Week 1 and replacement starter Chris Banjo (hamstring) last Sunday against the Lions.
Banjo was not present at the start of practice Wednesday, according to Urban. Thompson is on injured reserve but after the game this Sunday is eligible to return if his injury improves.
In the meantime, the Cardinals have considered moving rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons to safety, according to Kingsbury. They were also reportedly set to work out veteran safety T.J. Ward this week with Deionte Thompson, Curtis Riley and Charles Washington the only healthy bodies at the position.