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Cardinals mulling options to replace pass-rusher Markus Golden

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals are facing what's becoming an all-too-familiar situation this week: Replacing an injured player.

This week it's outside linebacker Markus Golden, who found out Monday he'll need season-ending surgery on his right ACL. He was placed on injured reserve.

Arizona has a few options to replace Golden, who's developed into a feared pass-rusher. He had 12.5 sacks last season, but had yet to record one through four games this season.

Figuring out who should fill Golden's roster spot dominated coach Bruce Arians' time on Monday, but he said the Cardinals won't make a roster move for a couple of days.

Here's a look at potential replacements for Golden, according to Arians:

  • Kareem Martin: The fourth-year converted outside linebacker is the natural choice to replace Golden -- at least in Arizona's base 3-4 defense. He's finally grown into his position and has been active on defense when he's gotten a chance to play behind Golden and Chandler Jones. Arians says Martin has played "extremely well" this season after getting "stronger." Martin was drafted in 2014 as a defensive tackle, playing with his hand in the dirt. As an outside linebacker, he had to learn how to play standing up. "When he first got here, he always had his hand in the dirty," Arians said. "That's hard to do, but he's getting more physical."

  • Haason Reddick: Arizona's first-round pick this year played defensive end during his senior year at Temple and converted to inside linebacker at the Senior Bowl in January, so he'd just have to combine the two positions and he'll be ready to play outside linebacker. He has the pass-rusher mentality and the quickness to get off the edge and past a tackle, but he can also drop in coverage, as he showed numerous times this season covering running backs or tight ends from inside. With Deone Bucannon's return to inside linebacker on Sunday, Reddick's snap count might decrease over the next few weeks as Bucannon gets back into football shape.

  • A player from the practice squad: Arians called the idea of signing one of the practice squad outside linebackers "a possibility" because they have "looked very good." They are Bryson Albright, Obum Gwachum and Earl Okine. All three have the size coveted by NFL teams at outside linebacker. Albright, 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, played in one game last season for the Buffalo Bills. Gwachum, 6-5 and 246 pounds, had 2.5 sacks in 10 games with the Saints the past two seasons. Okine, 6-6 and 262 pounds, had five tackles in five games with Indianapolis in 2015. He spent the first three weeks of this season on the Lions’ practice squad.

  • Sign a free agent: There's one name that comes to mind rather quickly if the Cardinals are looking for a free agent pass-rusher -- Dwight Freeney. The 37-year-old had four sacks last season with Atlanta after recording nine with the Cardinals in 2015. He'd be the veteran option if Arizona wanted to someone to help tutor Martin and Reddick and the candidates on the practice squad.