Cardinals’ offensive line holds strong amid handful of injuries in Week 3

Sep 27, 2021, 3:15 PM | Updated: 3:16 pm
Cardinals OL Max Garcia warms up ahead of practice Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake...
Cardinals OL Max Garcia warms up ahead of practice Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals entered their Week 3 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars already down a starting member of the offensive line in right tackle Kelvin Beachum.

By the start of the third quarter, Arizona was without two more starters in guards Justin Pugh and Justin Murray and trailing 13-7 to winless Jacksonville.

But just when things looked to be trending down in a hurry, backup guards Max Garcia and Sean Harlow jumped right in on the right and left sides, respectively, helping turn the tide back in favor of the Cardinals as they went on to win 31-19.

“We’ll see on those two guys that went out in Justin and Justin,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. “Both with some back issues and it’ll be day to day this week. We’ll see how it progresses, but I couldn’t be more pleased with what I saw from Harlow and Max.

“Both came in and competed their tails off. We really got the offense rolling in the second half and they were a big part of that. Thought they both were very good on assignment and technique and stepped right in.”

The duo was a part of an offensive attack that resulted in 252 total yards, 14 first downs, two rushing TDs and 209 passing yards in the second half. The line also kept quarterback Kyler Murray upright for the remainder of the afternoon, not allowing a single sack on over 20 pass attempts.

It’s a good sight to see for the Cardinals, who may need to call upon Garcia and Harlow if Pugh and Justin Murray miss any additional time.

“I don’t think the back issues will be very long term, it may not be this week, but we’ll keep the depth that we have for the most part moving forward,” Kingsbury said.

As for Beachum’s status, that remains murky at best. Kingsbury said they would love to get the lineman back in the mix this week, but want to make sure he is 100% healthy after suffering a fractured rib in Week 1.

If the tackle can’t go, Josh Jones could be in line for his second straight start at right tackle after starting the season at right guard.

“It was late in the week when we could tell [Beachum] wouldn’t be able to go,” Kingsbury said. “Once again, Josh Jones is another one who slid in there with about a day of work at right tackle.

“He’d been playing guard extensively throughout camp, throughout the first couple weeks and slid over there. I thought he performed well, which is a big plus to just continue to give us more depth there at that tackle position.”

In his first start at right tackle, Jones fared well, posting a 72.2 Pro Football Focus grade. He did not allow any pressure on Murray across 39 pass-blocking snaps.

And despite planning to do most of his work as a guard, Jones, who entered the league as a tackle out of Houston in 2020, has little to no issue making the move.

“It felt great, honestly,” Jones told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Monday. “Going from right guard to right tackle, it felt great. I was able to move with some of those fast edge rushers and be able to hold my own out there.

“I just love to play ball, man, whatever position it is,” Jones added. “I just love to be out there playing with the fellas.”

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Cardinals’ offensive line holds strong amid handful of injuries in Week 3