No team, especially one that’s on a three-game winning streak, wants to curtail momentum this early in the season, but Arizona doesn't have a choice. And while the Arizona Cardinals hope to continue their winning ways in October, their bye this weekend may be coming at the right time.
The Cardinals will be able to rest a slew of injured players while letting others recover from minor bumps and bruises.
The extra week may be most important for quarterback Carson Palmer, who will have two more weeks without a game to wait for his bruised nerve to fully recover. Running back Andre Ellington will also benefit from the time off, as he continues to recover from a tendon tear in his left foot.
Other Cardinals who could use the extra time to heal from injuries also include defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (calf), tight end Rob Housler (hip), punter Dave Zastudil (groin) and linebacker Larry Foote (shoulder).
“I don’t like them early but this comes at a good time for us because some of the guys are beat up,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.
“We’ll look at our practice. I’m sure we’re not going to go as hard as last year and have a blood-letting practice this week but we’ll wait and see.”
The bye will also give cornerback Antonio Cromartie more time to recover from his bruised knee.
“Bye week is always going to help,” he said. “Bye weeks always help, no matter what kind of injuries you have but bye weeks always help.”
Following the bye week, Arizona has 13 straight weeks of games with just one long weekend included -- a Thursday night game at St. Louis on Dec. 11. The extra time will rejuvenate Arizona for the final two games, against Seattle and San Francisco, but until then, Arizona has a grinding stretch of 11 straight weeks.
With a run like that coming up, quarterback Drew Stanton said there’s more emphasis on getting healthy this weekend.
“These early byes can be a blessing or they can hurt you down the road,” he said. “This is a veteran team and this is a mature team that can take care of their bodies over the break and can really utilize it to help us fine tune some things and get ready for what we hope to be a good season.”
All week leading up to the 49ers game Sunday, Foote kept repeating the same message, according to receiver Michael Floyd: “It’s a lot better to go into a bye week winning than losing,” Foote said.
The repetition worked.
“That all ingrained in our minds and we wanted to make sure we went into the bye with a ‘W,’” Floyd said.
Stanton said neither he nor Palmer had ever been 3-0 heading into a bye week before. But veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly said Arizona has to play at the same level next week in order for the first three games to mean something.
“We have to come out of the bye just playing the same way we’re playing going into it,” Kelly said. “And that will really matter.”