ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals OL making up for Hudson absence; Green to Ertz: ‘Play fast’

Oct 21, 2021, 4:44 PM | Updated: 4:47 pm
The Arizona Cardinals prepare to take the field for a game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEne...
The Arizona Cardinals prepare to take the field for a game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Not only did the Arizona Cardinals have to deal with a handful of coaches and players testing positive for COVID-19 when they took on the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, they did so without starting center Rodney Hudson, who was placed on the injured reserve with rib and shoulder injuries ahead of the action.

And while the end result was a dominating 37-14 win, Hudson’s absence was still felt — even if he did make the trip despite the plan being for him to stay back and heal up.

For other teams, losing a leader and player of Hudson’s stature can have a negative effect on the offense.

But although there were a few small snap hiccups, the Cardinals didn’t miss a beat in the trenches, speaking to the makeup of Arizona’s offensive line.

In Sunday’s beatdown, the Cardinals’ running game made minced meat out of the Browns defense behind James Conner and Chase Edmonds. And like previous weeks, Arizona’s ground game stepped in late to chew up the clock and put the game far out of reach.

“I love the room that I coach in,” run game coordinator and offensive line coach Sean Kugler said Thursday. “We’ve got several leaders in there. D.J. Humphries, Justin Pugh, Kelvin Beachum, those guys are all leaders.

“We’ve got some young players that are learning how to be pros and they couldn’t have better teachers than those guys. We have a collective group of leaders and as a coach, that’s fun to have.”

In place of Hudson was backup Max Garcia, who has now made two starts this year, once at right guard and last week at center.

Outside of a couple snaps that he would like to have back, Garcia filled in nicely for the injured Hudson.

“He’s invaluable to us, really feel excited for him because it’s been awhile since he played with that ACL,” Kugler said. “He overcame a lot to come back and the fact that he’s out there couldn’t be prouder of the guy. The room loves this guy. They rally around him. He’s as tough as they come and he’s stepped in and we haven’t missed a beat.”

And with Hudson out for at least two more games, Garcia and the rest of the line will once again have to pull together without one of its captains.

A.J. Green’s advice to Zach Ertz short and sweet

Despite being with the team throughout the offseason and training camp, Cardinals wide receiver A.J. Green said he was still trying to find his place within the offense early on in the regular season.

It’s clear he’s found it through six weeks, recording 21 receptions for 340 yards and three touchdowns and proving to be just what the Cardinals had hoped he would be opposite DeAndre Hopkins.

His new teammate and tight end Zach Ertz doesn’t quite have that same luxury, however, basically given nine days to study Arizona’s playbook before Sunday’s matchup with the Texans.

Luckily for Ertz, Green has a simple tip to follow.

“My advice to him is just play fast,” Green said Thursday. “You’re gonna make mistakes, just play fast and you’ll get your foot under you once you get in this thing. This is a fun offense.”

EXTRA POINT

– Green on Conner:

“James is always the guy that brings the energy. You see him out there before games, he’s out there jumping, hopping around, getting everybody hyped. He brings a different toughness to the team. Been playing against him a lot in Pittsburgh, so I already know what he’s about. He’s tough and he brings that to the offense.”

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