TEMPE, Ariz. – Another week, another serious injury for the Arizona Cardinals to deal with.
But after going through training camp without a major injury, coach Bruce Arians predicted this would happen.
“Knock on wood, we got lucky and didn't have the tragedy (injury)," Arians said on Sept. 1. "But I'm sure one's coming. They always do."
And they did.
First was David Johnson, then Mike Iupati, and this week Markus Golden. Those are just the big names on injured reserve.
There have also been a series of minor injuries that have left both sides of the ball affected. Left tackle D.J. Humphries has been out since Week 1 with a knee. Wide receiver John Brown has dealt with a lingering quad injury all season. Guard Alex Boone missed last weekend with a pec injury. Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche reaggravated a calf ailment that kept him out Sunday. Linebacker Deone Bucannon just returned last weekend from an ankle injury.
As the injuries kept piling up, the motto around the Cardinals has remained the same: Next man up.
“You just got to keep going,” Arians said. “It’s another guy’s opportunity.”
Backups have again played a significant role for Arizona this season. Kareem Martin will help fill in for Golden. Boone was the solution for Iupati’s absence but then rookie Will Holden filled in for Boone. Arizona re-signed Earl Watford on Monday to add depth to the offensive line rotation.
Chris Johnson was re-signed after Week 1 to fill the void left by David Johnson.
And Arians gave game balls to three backup defensive linemen – Rodney Gunter, Xavier Williams and Olsen Pierre – for the first time in his career this week.
“We are very deep in a number of areas, where one guy goes down and there’s another guy that has been waiting for the moment to get his opportunity,” quarterback Carson Palmer said.
Palmer hasn’t seen a lack of focus and anybody hanging their heads amid the wave of injuries. The biggest issue, he said, was with players playing out of position on the offensive line. Otherwise, the players have been “very focused,” Palmer said.
With as many losses as Arizona has incurred the last four weeks, Arians knows there’s always the possibility of them taking their toll on the Cardinals early in the season.
While he has seen plenty of teams manage injuries to stars and go onto have successful seasons, he also has seen teams not be able overcome the injury bug.
“It can go the other way in a heartbeat,” he said. “It’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen, and all the coaches, to make sure that we continue to know that when we put that helmet on, what’s expected of us.”
He began that process began in April when the players report for the offseason program.
“The most valuable player on every team is the backup,” Arians said. “It’s not the starter. It’s the backup.”