CARDINALS CORNER

Out of office: Arizona Cardinals embark on bye week later than most

Nov 29, 2022, 6:55 AM

Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...

Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — Hello, bye week.

After 12 weeks of ups, downs and everything else in between, the Arizona Cardinals get a reprieve from all the minutia and repetition that comes with the NFL schedule.

Following some film study to start the week, the Cardinals won’t reconvene on the season in person until next Monday, giving Arizona ample time to rest, recover and rejuvenate ahead of the final five games of the year.

Outside of a mandatory NFL Zoom meeting on Tuesday, it’ll be on the players to come back ready to hit the grindstone.

“They’ll just get away,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. “We’ll have a program for them to stay on and stay in shape then come back and be ready to roll.”

“That’s usually been our plan (whether it’s) five, six or seven (days),” the head coach added when asked about giving the team additional days off. “We vary based upon when (the bye) happened in the season. … This is the first time we’ve had it this late, so we felt like that was the appropriate number.”

Only six other teams have a later bye than the Cardinals, who ironically share the same off week as the Steve Wilks-led Carolina Panthers.

It’s not just on the players to get in a better place physically and mentally, either, with the coaching staff needing to make its proper adjustments coming off a heart-breaking 25-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday and the New England Patriots coming town in Week 14.

At 4-8, it’s on Kingsbury and Co. to latch onto what works and try to salvage something out of this disappointing season.

One area the Cardinals hope to expand on is the running game, especially after the success it had in the defeat.

Behind a stout offensive line and James Conner’s 25-carry, 120-yard effort, Arizona’s ground game was a thorn in Los Angeles’ side for most of the contest.

But while Conner shouldered the majority of the workload in the backfield, that might not be the case moving forward.

Kingsbury wants to make sure they are smart with the veteran running back over the final five games, potentially opening the door for rookie Keaontay Ingram to pick up some more reps. So far this season, Ingram has seen no more than 20 offensive snaps and has ran the rock 21 times for 52 yards and a touchdown in seven games played.

“We’ll see how James is feeling and if we can get Keaontay Ingram more involved there, but we’ll continue to try and maximize the personnel we have,” Kingsbury said.

“I thought we ran the ball decently (Sunday) which was good. I thought we played physical up front. It wasn’t always pretty but we had some nice runs and nice gains, so we’ll try to build off that.”

And on the other side of the bye, potential reinforcements await.

“We’re hopeful for (Will Hernandez or Rodney Hudson),” Kingsbury said when asked if any injured offensive linemen could make it back onto the football field after the off week. “I don’t know what that’s going to look like but hopefully one of the two at some point in the near future we can get back in there.”

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