CARDINALS CORNER

The final stretch: Cardinals get back to business post-bye week

Dec 11, 2023, 4:07 PM

TEMPE — The bye week has come and gone for the Arizona Cardinals. Now, it’s time to get back to work with just four games left to play, beginning with a home tilt against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Cardinals returned to the Tempe training facility on Monday morning recharged and ready to get after it following their time away from the game on what was the latest bye of the season.

It wasn’t a typical start to the week, though, with Arizona getting a bonus day of practice in to get the juices going post-bye.

“I know they had a little pep in their step,” head coach Jonathan Gannon said Monday. “They already lifted and they’re in meetings right now. We’ll get out there today and kind of have a bonus day — go good on good. And then we’ll have a normal week as we get going, but I know that they needed the break.”

“I’m always ready to get back going,” the head coach added when asked if he felt any urgency this past week of down time. “I was hooting and hollering this morning, so we’ll have a good week.”

Business as usual in Arizona

The week may be mapped out differently than it has been the past 13 weeks but wasn’t hasn’t changed is the message of continued improvement and accountability throughout the locker room:

“We challenge our guys every day, honestly, so there will be normal business here knowing that we’ve got to have a really good week of prep and practice and we’ve got to play really well to give ourselves a chance to win,” Gannon said Monday.

For tight end Trey McBride, that means continuing to improve as both a pass catcher and blocker despite the increased opportunities in the starting lineup and all the success that’s come along with it.

It’s all about being that complete tight end and doing whatever he can to help the offense take that next step forward.

“There’s still a lot that needs to be done. … I’m excited for these last four games,” McBride said Monday. “Coming off a win in Pittsburgh, we have a little momentum and trying to finish this season strong to build into the offseason.”

I just want to see our team continue to get better. We’ve gotten better the last couple weeks offensively, we’ve played well. … Really just want to continue to get better, continue to grow, continue to develop. Hopefully everyone can continue to keep gelling as an offense.”

Kyler Murray’s improvement

Four games into quarterback Kyler Murray’s return from a torn ACL, where has the signal caller improved the most, Gannon?

“I think he’ll tell you that operationally (we have to) make sure we’re doing a good job in and out of the huddle, getting guys situated, getting us in the right checks and calls and then playing at a high level, which he’s done,” Gannon said.

“I’m excited for him for this week to go against a really good football team at home and see if we can put our best foot forward.”

In four games, Murray has completed 60.7% of his passes for 864 yards and three touchdowns to two interceptions. He’s also carried the rock 23 times for 106 yards and three scores.

Hollywood Brown, Michael Wilson injury updates

Things are looking up for both Hollywood Brown and Michael Wilson, according to Gannon.

Wilson was back practicing Monday after missing a handful of games with a shoulder issue that continues to linger.

“He should be out there this week in some capacity,” Gannon said ahead of Monday’s practice. “He’s doing good.”

Brown on the other hand did not practice to start the week, though his head coach is optimistic about the wide receiver’s practice availability over the next few days.

“All signs point to him being able to practice this week and should be good to go,” Gannon told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo during his weekly interview after practice.

The head coach added that the team will still need to evaluate Brown throughout the week before making a final decision.

Getting one or both wide receivers back in the mix could go a long way against one of the toughest defenses in the league.

Cardinals severe underdogs vs. 49ers

Arizona will need every extra bit of work it can get this week with arguably the best team in the NFL coming to town on Sunday.

After a dominant showing against the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago, the 49ers backed it up with an NFC West beatdown of the Seattle Seahawks to control the No. 1 seed in the conference at 10-3.

Toss in the Cardinals’ current state of affairs and it should come as no surprise that the 49ers are 13.5-point favorites with a -1000 money line, per FanDuel Sportsbook. Arizona meanwhile is +600 to win straight up.

The odds clearly aren’t in the Cardinals’ favor, but as they say, “Any given Sunday.”

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