For a team that’s 5-0 and remains the only undefeated team in the NFL, it isn’t peaches and cream for the Arizona Cardinals at the moment.
On October 13, the team announced pass rusher, Chandler Jones, tested positive for COVID-19 and anchor center Rodney Hudson with a ribs injury.
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Now, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, two unnamed people in the Cardinals organization have tested positive for COVID-19.
Graziano is also saying since the team has three positives, one more positive would put them in intensive protocols. This would lead to the whole organization going through daily testing, more masking and limitations at their facilities as well as limiting indoor practicing.
Since Jones is vaccinated, he needs two negative tests 24 hours apart and with no symptoms for 48 hours. Coach Kliff Kingsbury told the media on October 13 that Jones was experiencing symptoms.
The Cardinals lead the league in COVID-19 cases. According to AllCardinals’ Howard Balzer, 18 players have landed on the COVID list with three players in Andy Isabella, Justin Pugh and Darrell Daniels on it twice.
There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to the increase in COVID cases for the Cardinals. The Cardinals travel to the Cleveland Browns on October 17 and have many question marks on not only the COVID situation but with injuries as well.
Luckily for the Cardinals, there are two players who can come back to the team and make a difference.
While the COVID situation is still ongoing and does warrant concern, there are a few positives to look at. Yes, the team lost tight end Maxx Williams for likely the rest of the season and center Rodney Hudson is out Sunday with a ribs injury.
But the team could be getting reinforcements in other positions. Mainly, the corner position.
Emerging starter Byron Murphy and rookie Marco Wilson practiced on October 14 after being out against the San Francisco 49ers.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is hopeful they both return on Sunday.
“I do… hopefully both are ready to go Sunday.”
Murphy is tied for second in the league in interceptions with three. He’s been a catalyst in the cornerback room while still being just 23-years-old. Wilson has recorded 18 tackles, a pass breakup, and a forced fumble in four starts this season. The fourth-round pick almost had an interception from Matthew Stafford if it wasn’t for a questionable roughing the passer call on Isaiah Simmons.
Kingsbury on October 13 commented on both players’ statuses.
“Still day-to-day,” said Kingsbury. “We’re getting them out there, moving them around. Definitely have been progressions but not sure how it’s going to play out as the week goes on.”
Both players had ribs injuries and that injury seems to be the leading injury for the Cardinals. DeAndre Hopkins had a ribs injury for a number of weeks and now Hudson is out because of it.
Corners Have Stepped Up
“I’m just taking advantage of the opportunities I’ve been given.”
That’s cornerback Antonio Hamilton on October 13. Hamilton was undrafted, landed on five team before heading to the Red Sea. He’s only been listed as a starter twice throughout his career before Sunday.
“It felt great,” Alford said. “Just to be back on the field working with my teammates every day in our goal of winning the Super Bowl.”
Veteran Robert Alford has played his role nicely and even young Jace Whittaker stepped in as well. Alford led the secondary with a 70.6 coverage grade according to Pro Football Focus and allowed just one catch for one yard.
While Murphy and Wilson were out in Week 5, the corners did a nice job for the most part of handling Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. No receiver caught more than three balls.
Their receiver matchups against the Browns feature Odell Beckham, Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Wilson and Murphy were limited according to the October 14 injury report.
Nothing’s 100 percent, but adding both to the lineup would be deeply beneficial for everyone.