Cardinals to rely on defensive line depth without J.J. Watt

Oct 27, 2021, 7:15 PM | Updated: 8:09 pm

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 24: Leki Fotu #95 and Michael Dogbe #91 of the Arizona Cardinals celebr...

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 24: Leki Fotu #95 and Michael Dogbe #91 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate in the third quarter against the Houston Texans in the game at State Farm Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals have not had a healthy defensive line in any game this season.

That will continue Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers.

Defensive end J.J. Watt, who has the most snaps among Arizona’s defensive linemen, reportedly needs shoulder surgery that could end his season.

Nose tackle Corey Peters remains on the COVID-19 reserve list as of Wednesday night and nose tackle Rashard Lawrence (calf) is questionable to play.

“Hopefully guys get healthy come back soon but that’s NFL football, having reserve players ready to go every single week, having those guys coached up because you never know,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said last week.

What will help is getting edge rusher Chandler Jones and defensive end Zach Allen back from the COVID-19 reserve list.

The onus will be on Allen, Michael Dogbe, Leki Fotu and Jordan Phillips to take on bigger roles up front.

Zach Allen

Allen is second behind Watt in defensive snaps on the line this year despite missing two games. He lined up opposite of Watt in many packages.

In his most recent game, he had a sack and two tackles for loss. But his conditioning after having COVID-19 will be something to monitor.

Michael Dogbe

Dogbe filled in primarily for Allen last week, playing 48% of the defensive snaps, a career-high.

With the Cardinals swapping Allen and Watt, Dogbe could be back in the same role.

If Allen needs more rest than usual, then Dogbe may have to play the most snaps on the defensive line Thursday.

He had a quarterback hit and three combined tackles against Houston.

Jordan Phillips

Phillips can line up at tackle or end. He missed the first five weeks of the year but has looked energized upon return.

The Cardinals gave him a three-year contract before last season, but he has missed most games due to injury since.

Thursday is an opportunity for Phillips to pick up his teammates after they stepped in for him.

Leki Fotu

Fotu will have an especially important role if Lawrence cannot play. He is already set to receive a lot of snaps with Peters likely out.

The second-year pro has struggled against the run this year with a 38.1 run defense grade on Pro Football Focus and one combined tackle.

The Packers will miss multiple receivers Thursday as Davante Adams and Allen Lazard are on the COVID-19 list.

Stopping the run will be key, and Fotu’s performance could be a major part of that.

Presented By
Western Governors University

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinal wins the Topham Handicap Chase race on the second day of the Grand National Festiv...

Tyler Drake

High horse: Arizona Cardinal takes home Topham Handicap Chase victory

Given the same namesake as the NFL team, Arizona Cardinal finished first in the Topham Handicap Chase on Friday morning.

12 hours ago

Monti Ossenfort could control the draft if he trades the No.4 pick, NFL Draft insider Matt Miller s...

Bailey Leasure

ESPN’s Miller: It would take a ‘Trey Lance’ trade package to move Cardinals out of No. 4

NFL Draft insider Matt Miller thinks the Arizona Cardinals could control the 2024 NFL Draft if they decide to trade down.

16 hours ago

Presented By...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Arizona Cardinals in good spot with No. 4 pick in 2024 NFL Draft

The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of leverage when it comes to their No. 4 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Burns & Gambo talk about what could be if other teams give GM Monti Ossenfort a call about it.

1 day ago

Nate Wiggins #DB42 of Clemson participates in the 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil ...

Damon Allred

Arizona Cardinals could trade up from No. 27 for a cornerback, ESPN says

After some successful maneuvering a year ago, Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort is poised to do the same in the 2024 NFL Draft.

1 day ago

Darius Robinson makes a tackle...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals address 2 big defensive needs in Mel Kiper Jr.’s 2-round NFL mock draft

The Arizona Cardinals added a pass rusher and a cornerback in ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest two-round mock NFL Draft.

2 days ago

Marvin Harrison Jr. looks on...

Tyler Drake

Mel Kiper Jr. still has Cardinals landing Marvin Harrison Jr. in latest NFL mock draft

Marvin Harrison Jr. is still the answer for the Cardinals at No. 4 overall following a run of quarterbacks in Mel Kiper's latest mock draft.

2 days ago

Cardinals to rely on defensive line depth without J.J. Watt