For the first time since the season began, the Arizona Cardinals will get to play with their full allotment of defensive backs
For pretty much the entire campaign, there’s one particular segment of the Arizona Cardinals that has been splintered. Any high hopes that the organization may have had about it’s secondary in 2020 have been put on hold because of injuries. Finally, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the Cardinals.
When they take on the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, the Cards will have a full allotment of defensive backs at their disposal. Thanks to a bevy of setbacks, the squad has had every member of the group on the field together for just two snaps this season. When did Arizona’s bad luck first rear it’s ugly head?
Back in mid-August, the club announced that cornerback Robert Alford would be out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle. It was a devastating blow for the Cardinals, who had the veteran penciled in to be a starter. Alford had missed the previous campaign as well, thanks to a broken tibia he had suffered during last year’s training camp.
Then, just a couple of plays into this season’s opening-day victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the Cards lost a starting safety. Jalen Thompson, a second-year player who had showed promise as a rookie in ’19, was placed on the injured-reserve list after hurting his ankle. The 22-year old returned last weekend against the Miami Dolphins, and was rated the top Cardinals defender on the field by Pro Football Focus.
Two weeks later, versus the Detroit Lions, Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker tore a ligament in his thumb that required surgery. The 24-year old would miss Arizona’s week-four contest, leading to an absolute shredding of the secondary by Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. A groin ailment has threatened to keep Baker out of this Sunday’s clash with Buffalo, but it appears as if Baker will be out there with his teammates after all.
Last week, the pass defense was picked apart again, thanks to the absence of two of the Cards most-talented cover guys. Dre Kirkpatrick (thigh) and Byron Murphy (COVID-19) missed the week-nine clash, a 34-31 loss to the Tua Tagovailoa-led Dolphins. The good news is that both Cardinals cover guys are expected to be back for the upcoming matchup with the Bills.
Arizona’s defensive unit will get some added assistance this weekend as well, thanks to Wednesday’s signing of cornerback Johnathan Joseph. The 36-year old was a first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2006. Joseph has also spent time with the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans.
The one constant through all of this turmoil has been Patrick Peterson, the Cards eight-time Pro Bowler. Drafted back in 2011, the shutdown corner has never missed a game due to injury. Peterson did have to sit out six contests in ’19 after testing positive for PEDs.
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen will present quite a challenge for the Cardinals on Sunday. With two of their best cover guys sidelined last week, it wasn’t real surprising to see Vance Joseph‘s secondary get torched by Miami’s air attack. Will all of their defensive backs back in place, Arizona will have no such excuses against the visiting Bills.