Cardinals’ Budda Baker expected to return from IR in 2023
Sep 18, 2023, 3:56 PM | Updated: 4:09 pm
TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals defense took a shot on Monday with the placement of safety Budda Baker on the injured reserve with a hamstring injury picked up during Week 2 practice.
Make no if, ands or buts about it, it’s tough to replace what the safety brings to the table day in and day out.
Luckily for head coach Jonathan Gannon and co., it sounds like Baker’s injured-reserve stint isn’t season-ending, having avoided tearing the muscle.
“He’s going to miss some time, but he’ll be back,” Gannon said Monday. “He’ll get ready to go here pretty soon and be ready to roll.”
#AZCardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon talks Budda Baker and his injured hamstring.
The head coach added the safety didn’t suffer a tear.
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) September 18, 2023
“He was positive about it,” the head coach told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo after meeting with reporters. “Obviously, he wants to be out there with his teammates, but he’ll be back soon.”
At the minimum, Baker’s IR stint will span through at least Week 6, forcing him out of matchups against the undefeated Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, a struggling Cincinnati Bengals squad that still has immense offensive firepower and a Los Angeles Rams team surprising many in what is supposed to be a down year.
With Baker out, it’s now on those still patrolling the secondary and defense to step up in his absence.
And don’t think for a second that Gannon isn’t oblivious to the fact that it’s going to take a village to make up for what the defense will miss without Baker leading the charge.
“We all got to rally around. You’re never going to replace a Budda Baker but we got guys that we feel comfortable getting the job done and playing winning football for us,” Gannon said. “Everyone’s just got to do their job and we’ll be OK.”
Arizona now looks to the combination of Jalen Thompson, K’Von Wallace, Andre Chachere and newly signed Qwuantrezz Knight to pick up the slack in the safeties room.
The Cardinals could also opt to elevate safety Joey Blount, who signed with the practice squad on Monday, to the active roster on game day if need be.
Much like we saw in Arizona’s Week 2 loss to the New York Giants, Thompson and Wallace are expected to handle the bulk of the work without Baker on the field, with Chachere likely getting more run in the team’s often-used three-safety sets.