Cardinals RB James Conner’s 1st career 1,000-yard season within reach

Jan 5, 2024, 1:31 PM | Updated: 2:07 pm

TEMPE — As Dan Fouts put it before the Bobby Boucher and the SCLSU Mud Dogs made their epic comeback in the infamous Bourbon Bowl, “Last game of the year, can’t hold anything back.”

The Arizona Cardinals aren’t punching their ticket to the postseason in year one under Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon, but they still end the season on a high note against the playoff-hopeful Seattle Seahawks in Week 18 at 2:25 p.m. this Sunday on FOX.

On top of potentially playing spoiler on Sunday, a handful of Cardinals can go out with a bang to end the regular season.

A look at the milestones within reach when Cardinals-Seahawks gets underway in Week 18:

Can James Conner reach the 1,000-yard mark and more?

James Conner doesn’t need much of an introduction.

The running back’s overall body of work and what he brings to the team on and off the field speaks for itself.

Conner, however, has yet to hit the illustrious 1,000-yard mark on the ground in a single season.

That can all change in Week 18.

With 110 yards against Seattle, Conner would reach the elusive feat for the first time in his seven-year career.

“It’d be cool to get that for the first time,” Conner said Thursday. “My offensive line, they know how far we are away. We got to win the ballgame first, but hopefully that comes after.”

Reaching the 100-yard mark would also mean the running back would join David Johnson and Chris Johnson as the only Cardinals with at least four games of 100 yards in a single season since the franchise moved to Arizona in 1988.

Record at least 84 yards and Conner will set a new career best, surpassing his mark of 973 in 2018 as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Whether Conner gets to 1,000 rushing yards or not, the running back has already secured his third straight season of at least 1,000 scrimmage yards. That’s nothing to scoff at.

Conner can make even more franchise noise with a pair of touchdowns in Week 18. If he accomplishes that feat — whether as a runner or pass catcher — Conner would become the sixth Cardinal in franchise history to post multiple seasons of at least 10 touchdowns.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald currently leads the franchise with five seasons of 10 or more scores.

And even if Conner doesn’t reach the 1,000-yard mark, there’s no question what he’s meant to Gannon and the rest of the franchise.

“I can’t even say enough about him, truthfully. He’s a captain, the leadership he provides, how he practices, his emotional stability as I call it, never gets too high, never gets too low, the way he prepares, what he does not in the building to get himself ready to play. There’s no better example of, ‘Hey, there’s the blueprint of how to be a pro.'”

Can Trey McBride have another day?

Much like Conner, second-year pro and tight end Trey McBride has the chance to reach numerous milestones in the season finale.

Another 100-yard day would list him alongside Hall of Famer Jackie Smith as the only Cardinals tight ends with at least three 100-yard performances in their career. McBride has a long way to go to catch Smith, who is tops in the category with 22.

Just nine receiving yards would mean something to McBride, who can become the second Cardinals tight end to hit the 800-yard mark in a season since Smith did it twice from 1966-67.

McBride can also notch a third game of at least 10 catches, which would put him second behind Zach Ertz (five games in 2018) for the most games of double-digit receptions in NFL history.

Matt Prater nearing the century mark (again)

When you look at who has scored the most points for the Cardinals in 2023, it’s not Conner (48), McBride (12), Murray (18), wide receiver Hollywood Brown (24) or any other offensive player on the roster.

No, that honor belongs to Matt Prater (98) and it shouldn’t come as a surprise given the kicker’s resume up to this point.

With just two more points, Prater would reach 100 points in a season for the 12th time in his 17-year career. That would mark the seventh most in NFL history and rank second only behind Mason Crosby at 15 among current players.

There’s also a chance Prater ties or even surpasses the NFL mark of 50-yard field goals in a single season with 11 held by Daniel Carlson. Prater currently sits at nine entering Week 18.

Kyler Murray through the air and on the ground

Murray has the chance to notch his 19th career game with both a passing and rushing touchdown. Cam Newton (31) and Josh Allen (25) are the only two players ahead of Murray in NFL history.

A rushing score would also move Murray into a tie with Johnny Roland (1966-72) and Elmer Angsman (1946-52) for seventh in team history for career rushing TDs with 27.

Hey, Mr. Carter

Michael Carter hasn’t been with the Cardinals long (five games played), though he still has a chance to hit the 150-yard mark for the season this week.

If he picks up 18 yards against the Seahawks, he’ll become the sixth member of the Cardinals to reach 150 yards on the ground.

That would not only lead the NFL in 2023, but it would also tie the franchise record in a single season (1951, 1954).

Jalen Thompson’s INT run

Safety Jalen Thompson is having arguably his best season as a pro in year five.

Having already set a new season high in interceptions with four, Thompson can become the first Cardinal since Antoine Bethea in 2017 with at least five picks in a season with one more INT on Sunday.

“He’s a versatile piece with a versatile skillset. Everything you want to me in the modern NFL as we sit here today and moving forward, he has that,” Gannon said Friday.

“He’s got fantastic football character, he’s a competitor, he loves to practice, loves to meet.”

BJ Ojulari sack watch

With at least 1.5 sacks against the Seahawks, the rookie linebacker can join Simeon Rice (three in 1996) and Andre Wadsworth (two in 1998) as the only Cardinals in franchise history to record at least two multi-sack games as a rookie.

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