GM Keim hints Arizona Cardinals may get creative with WR injury woes

Sep 16, 2022, 3:32 PM
Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) and quarterback Kyler Murray (1) attempt to recover...

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) and quarterback Kyler Murray (1) attempt to recover a botched snap during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

If the Arizona Cardinals could survive an injury spree at any one position, it’d probably be at wide receiver.

A.J. Green, Marquise Brown and Greg Dortch remain healthy heading into a Week 2 battle Sunday at the Las Vegas Raiders, but after that, it’ll get dicy.

Andre Baccellia, who didn’t make the 53-man roster, is the only healthy wideout on the roster beyond that trio, currently.

Practice squad additions like Javon Wims and Jeff Cotton Jr. have a few days of experience on the roster and could be call-ups from the practice squad, but there’s little else Arizona can do after head coach Kliff Kingsbury ruled out Rondale Moore (hamstring) and Andy Isabella (back) on Friday.

So it sounds like the Cardinals will indeed have to get creative.

“Just when you have enough and you have enough depth at a certain position, it backfires on you,” general manager Steve Keim told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Friday. “In particular, we have some backs that have some pass-catching skills.

“Hopefully, those’ll be guys that can add to the passing game and we get a run game going early and it sets up the play-action game.”

Running back, by the way, is another position group the team must feel good about after it kept five backs on the 53-man roster heading into this season.

Starter James Conner caught 37 balls for 39 targets for 375 yards and three scores a year ago.

But if his touches are there and the gameplan is all about the ground game and they need more bodies taking hits, there are options to get weird.

Backup Eno Benjamin wasn’t a volume pass-catcher but as a junior at Arizona State made 42 grabs for 347 yards.

Veteran Darrel Williams nearly evened his 558 rushing yards with 452 receiving last year as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, and fourth-stringer Jonathan Ward’s best college season at Central Michigan saw him rush for 1,024 yards and add 470 more on catches.

Obviously, it should help moreso that tight end Zach Ertz is expected to get more snaps, according to Keim. He was held back last week as he battled back from a calf injury, making two grabs for 14 yards.

But if we’re just talking receiver, Arizona isn’t in the worst spot should it remain healthy. Brown remains an explosive downfield target, Green has a wealth of experience and Dortch caught more balls (seven receptions for 63 yards) than both of them combined in the opener.

Extra points

— Keim on star linebacker Isaiah Simmons’ Week 1 play: “We need him to be better. He’s a guy who has a tremendous amount of skill. We just got to get him dialed in, locked in a little bit better.”

— The GM said the tape showed quarterback Kyler Murray was, like everyone else, hit-and-miss.

“I thought he did some really good things. I thought there were some things he could clean up and get better at. He’s approached this week extremely diligently like I expected him to,” Keim said.

“I know a number of times when people talk about young players’ new contracts, how do they respond? I will tell you straight up the guy has been phenomenal. He’s been vocal, he’s been energetic and he’s done all the right things.”

— On the 44-21 Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs: “Certainly, some concerns. I think it’s a combination of two things. Number one, both sides of the ball  … we did not execute in my opinion. And then, quite frankly, ran into a buzzsaw in Patrick Mahomes, who played exceptional.

“The way we played, it would bring up a lot of reasons to question it.”

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