In the late second quarter on October 10, Arizona Cardinals tight end Maxx Williams caught a pass from Kyler Murray. After getting the first down, San Francisco 49ers’ Emmanuel Moseley’s helmet hit the tight end’s right knee on a tackle. Williams was carted off the field and looked like a serious injury.
Both teams gathered around him and comforted him as he was headed off to the locker room.
It was no surprise to see the team reporting during the game that Williams would not return.
According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, “Williams is feared to have suffered a major, season-ending knee injury.”
Williams has been a surprising contributor who took off in Week 2 against the Vikings, catching seven passes for 94 yards. Kyler Murray has looked to him as a safety valve and someone who can play in the middle of the field. With Williams potentially out for the season, the Cardinals lose an important offensive player that could also block in the running game.
To make matters worse on offense, the Cardinals lost center Rodney Hudson against the 49ers due to a ribs injury. Max Garcia came in to replace the anchor leader on the offensive front. Kliff Kingsbury has yet to get an update on Hudson’s injury.
“You never want to see that happen to a brother of yours.”
That was Murray talking about Williams’ devastating injury. It was touching to see both teams come over to Williams and support the 27-year-old who was just starting to become a fixture in Arizona.
It hit a lot of players, including defensive players like Zach Allen.
“The severity of it for a guy like Maxx (is disheartening), I mean Maxx has been through hell and back but personally he’s a close friend of mine and I know a lot of guys on this team that love and respect him,” Allen said during the postgame press conference.
DeAndre Hopkins preached how the Cards will find a way to replace Williams’ services.
“That’s the NFL, next man up,” said receiver DeAndre Hopkins during the press conference. “Maxx is definitely a big part of this offense. But that’s why (general manager) Steve Keim and those guys go out and get players that can fill that role. I hate what happened to Maxx; Maxx is my guy, but it’s the next man up (mentality) and I think Kliff and those guys will do a good job of preparing the next tight end.”
So who could be the next man up at tight end?
Next Man Up
The targets will certainly increase for players like Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk. More so Moore, who matched Kirk in targets for the first time this season.
As for the tight end position, the Cardinals could go the trading route. There are players out there who could make a difference, but a trade is likely to happen right before the trade deadline on November 2. Right now, veteran Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis are the two who will step in. Harris played 32 snaps while Travis played in nine.
In the past, Kingsbury has had offenses who use tight ends to block more often than not. But last year, ex-Cardinal Dan Arnold caught 31 balls and Williams was well on his way for more production. This is an area that will be tested before Arizona makes any major maneuvering.