Injuries help derail Arizona Cardinals’ 2016 season


Every team in the NFL has to deal with injuries but the Arizona Cardinals were hit especially hard during the 2016 season

No one on the Arizona Cardinals would ever use injuries as an excuse for their disappointing season. Head coach Bruce Arians preaches that the “next man up” should perform as well as the starter they’re replacing.

But this year the Cards have placed an astronomical 13 players on the injured reserve list. That’s a ton of player loss. Either there’s something terribly wrong with the team’s conditioning program or they simply have very bad luck.

Starting in 2016, the league implemented a rule stating that each team could return one player from injured reserve. It’s been so bad for Arizona this season that even the player they brought back, safety Tyvon Branch, got reinjured.

One of the club’s best offseason additions was right guard Evan Mathis. He brought with him a load of experience, and became a mentor for right tackle D.J. Humphries. His time with Arizona was cut short when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in week five.

The offensive line took another blow in week eight when it’s anchor, left tackle Jared Veldheer, tore his triceps. His loss, coupled with the loss of Mathis sent the offensive line into a tailspin. Their replacements had their moments, but the drop in quality hurt the offense severely.

Branch was acquired to help offset the departures of Rashad Johnson and Jerraud Powers. He was off to a good start before suffering a groin injury in week four. The versatile defensive back returned on December 4th against the Washington Redskins, only to reinjure the groin the following week.

Running back Chris Johnson formed an impressive tandem with rookie David Johnson in 2015, but tore his groin this year. Cornerback Mike Jenkins looked good in camp, only to tear his ACL during a preseason game. 2016 was supposed to be a breakout campaign for tight end Troy Niklas until a wrist injury sidelined him.

Three more player losses contributed to this year’s horrific special teams play. Wide receiver Jaron Brown (knee), linebacker Alani Fua (knee) and tight end Ifeanyi Momah (wrist) are all excellent special teamers. Special teams coach Amos Jones could’ve used the services of all three in a big way this season.

It’s hard to say if having a healthy squad would’ve meant a playoff appearance for the Cardinals. But 13 players on injured reserve is a big nut to overcome for any team. Here’s hoping more players spend their time on the field, and not in the trainer’s room, in 2017.