Absence of Rodney Hudson leaves Cardinals QB Kyler Murray vulnerable

(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) Rodney Hudson
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) Rodney Hudson /

Arizona Cardinals signal-caller Kyler Murray is protected a whole lot better when Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson is in the starting lineup.

For three consecutive weeks, the Arizona Cardinals managed to remain undefeated without their Pro Bowl center in the starting lineup. This past Thursday night, the absence of Rodney Hudson finally caught up to the squad’s high-flying offense.

Cards quarterback Kyler Murray, in particular, was most affected by life without Hudson during the team’s gut-wrenching loss to the Green Bay Packers. The diminutive signal-caller was pressured many times throughout the evening, mostly from what appeared to be the center of Arizona’s offensive line. Only Murray’s tremendous mobility kept him from absorbing even more hits from a lively Packers pass rush.

While most of the media attention centered around Green Bay’s Davante Adams not participating in the matchup, the fact that the Cardinals had to play with a third-string center was virtually ignored. Sean Harlow, a journeyman who was promoted to the active roster just a month ago, was making his first NFL start. Any way you slice it, that was a huge disadvantage for an Arizona franchise that was hoping to make it eight victories in a row against the Packers.

Harlow’s struggles versus Green Bay were not only in the pass-protection department. On the Redbirds’ final drive, an errant snap by the 26-year-old put the club in a precarious 2nd-and-18 situation with the game winding down. It took an outstanding catch-and-run by the explosive Chase Edmonds to erase that almost inexcusable mistake by the overwhelmed Harlow.

Originally, Hudson was replaced by Max Garcia, a 29-year-old with 44 professional starts on his resume. However, the seventh-year blocker was seen limping during the latter stages of the Cards’ Week 7 triumph over the Houston Texans. It was later announced that Garcia had injured an Achilles tendon and would miss some time.

Kyler Murray limped off of the field following first loss by Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have extra time to rest before their Week 9 clash with the San Francisco 49ers, and they may very well need it. Shortly before the “miscommunication” with wideout A.J. Green that resulted in a game-ending interception, Murray suffered a lower-leg injury during a second-down carry. If the contest’s conclusion wasn’t gut-wrenching enough, the 5-foot-10, 207-pounder limped off of the field and was spotted wearing a walking boot when he left the stadium.

There is some good news regarding Hudson’s return. Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury reported that the 32-year-old has made significant progress with his rib injury, and there’s a possibility that Hudson could be back out there with his teammates next weekend.

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Kudos to Harlow for his gallant effort against the Packers, but neither he nor Garcia can perform up to Hudson’s standards. Murray, and the sore leg he’s currently nursing, would likely agree with that assessment.