Arizona Cardinals designate RB James Conner to return from IR

Nov 8, 2023, 9:28 AM | Updated: Nov 9, 2023, 11:54 am

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner is being designated to return off of injured reserve Wednesday, the team said in a release.

The Cardinals also added receiver Andre Baccallia, offensive lineman Austen Pleasants and cornerback Quavian White to the practice squad.

With the designation, Conner’s 21-day practice window opens. He must be activated off IR by Nov. 29 ahead of the team’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers or he will miss the rest of the season.

“I think he’s getting faster,” Arizona coach Jonathan Gannon said last week. “They’re doing a good job with him rehabbing him, but he’s getting ready to go and he’s excited to get back when he can get back and play.”

Conner has missed the past four games with a knee injury suffered in the Cardinals’ 34-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5.

Before going down with the injury, Conner had racked up 68 carries for 364 yards and two touchdowns through five starts. He added 30 more yards on eight catches.

Taking over the bulk of the work in the backfield in his absence has been undrafted rookie free agent Emari Demercado.

Since taking over for Conner midgame in Week 5, Demercado has recorded 45 carries for 192 yards and a touchdown to go along with seven catches for 36 yards in four games (two starts). Even when he didn’t see the majority of the touches in the backfield in Week 6, the running back still paced the room in offensive snaps.

Demercado is dealing with his own ailment as of late, however, suffering a toe injury in Week 8 that sidelined him in Sunday’s 27-0 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Missing both Conner and Demercado in addition to a beat-up offensive line didn’t do the running game — nor the offense as a whole — any favors against Cleveland.

As a team, the Cardinals averaged just two yards per carry on their way to 41 yards on 21 rushing attempts. Rookie quarterback Clayton Tune made up for more than half of the yardage on the ground (28).

The lack of run game was a massive factor in the team’s 58 yards of total offense, the worst offensive output for the franchise since 1955 when it called Chicago home.

But the offense will get a boost from the expected return of quarterback Kyler Murray this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

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