As the “dress rehearsal” game nears, banged up Cardinals looking to establish identity in Atlanta against the Falcons.
The most talked about player so far this camp will be out for the next 2-3 weeks. It has been reported that second-year defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche has suffered a calf sprain. Head coach Bruce Arians stated he will be “day-to-day” and will be wearing a boot “for a minute.”
After limping off the field during practice on Tuesday, we all held our breath in hopes that it wouldn’t be a serious injury.
Barring any setbacks, the 22-year-old should be back for the season opener in Detroit against the Lions on Sept. 10.
Playing a total of 73 snaps so far in 3 preseason games, Nkemdiche has been “disruptive,” often pushing opposing offensive lineman off the line of scrimmage. Clearly the Cardinals’ best player on both sides of the football so far during camp and in the preseason.
Mike Iupati’s arm injury a “concern” for Bruce Arians
One area that needed improvement heading into 2017 was the play of the offensive line. Protecting Carson Palmer and ensuring holes would open up like the Red Sea for David Johnson were the priority. A healthy Mike Iupati would certainly take care of the latter. The four-time Pro Bowler left practice Monday with a triceps injury and his head coach is “a little concerned.”
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The Cardinals have arguably the best RB in the league, and Iupati is as good a run-blocker as they come. The offensive line will certainly need him up front if they hope to keep Johnson moving forward.
John Wetzel will take the place of Iupati for the interim. A solid, veteran replacement, Wetzel should see some extended playing time with the number-ones in Atlanta on Saturday.
As for the former (protecting Carson Palmer), the two tackles — Jared Veldheer and D.J. Humpries — will look to improve their play as they continue to get acclimated to being flipped to the other side.
The offensive line can be a strength for this team in 2017. But fail to protect the QB and create running lanes, and it could be another long year for a unit that struggled mightily in 2016.