Statuses of Zach Ertz, other Cardinals starters murky ahead of Week 1
TEMPE — A handful of Arizona Cardinals starters’s availability remains up in the air less than two weeks out from facing the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1.
Offensively, tight end Zach Ertz, wide receiver Rondale Moore and offensive lineman Justin Pugh are three starters to keep an eye on as practices unfold over the next week-plus.
Ertz is still dealing with a calf issue that sidelined him for a good portion of training camp. Moore’s injury was not disclosed on Tuesday. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury considers the duo day to day.
“We’re hoping that we can get something out of (Moore) early in the week next week but we’ll see how he feels,” the head coach said.
“It’ll be close,” Kingsbury added of Ertz. “I think he’s right in line with (linebacker Markus Golden) and Rondale. We’re hoping next week we can get something out him early in the week and everything lines up. But hopefully that works out.”
If for some reason Moore is held back come Week 1 or even misses the contest, Kingsbury and Co. are confident their other options in wideouts Greg Dortch and Andy Isabella can pick up the slack.
In terms of tight end, rookie Trey McBride could be in line for added reps right out of the gate. Maxx Williams could also be utilized more if he is full-go from his 2021 knee injury by Week 1’s matchup. Williams has been ahead of schedule in his rehab.
Alongside the day-to-day crew is Pugh, who is still dealing with a stinger. The plan is to let him rest up over the course of this week and the weekend before evaluating him on Monday to see where he’s at.
Having a starting left guard’s status up in the air this close to Week 1 prep isn’t ideal, but there could be a silver lining with new Cardinal Cody Ford getting even more opportunities to pick up the offense. He was acquired before the final preseason game in a trade with the Buffalo Bills and immediately slotted in as a starter with Pugh out.
“It actually could be a blessing in disguise,” Kingsbury said. “Give Pugh some rest and let Cody get all those reps and really get caught up in the offense.
“He’s done a good job picking up so far, but I think the more reps he gets, the more comfortable Cody will get.”
Sean Harlow and Lecitus Smith are two more candidates that could see added reps at guard if Pugh isn’t full strength.
Speaking of Golden, the Cardinals’ 2021 sack leader still has yet to see any offseason action as he tends to what the team is calling a toe injury.
There have also been murmurs that Golden could be holding out of practicing given his current salary figure of just under $4 million and cryptic tweets.
“Pretty much on the same schedule as Rondale is,” Kingsbury said. “We’re hoping early in the week next week we can get something out of him and just progress him up until game time. But it’ll be close, I think.”
But if you ask fellow linebacker Dennis Gardeck, he isn’t picturing the team’s home opener without Golden’s high motor.
“He’s a dog. … I’m not worried about him at all,” Gardeck said.