Injuries should be no problem for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1
By Sion Fawkes
Injuries are reportedly already stacking up for the Arizona Cardinals, but thanks to some depth, they should not be a major issue.
Two primary players on the Arizona Cardinals could miss Sunday’s season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Tight end Zach Ertz and outside linebacker Markus Golden remain questionable as we head into the middle of the week.
Of course, this sounds like a dealbreaker for many in the fan base, given how effective both players were last season. Upon his arrival in the desert, Ertz hauled in 56 receptions for 574 yards and three scores. He also enjoyed a 69.1% catch percentage.
Golden was not as effective as former teammate Chandler Jones, but he still racked up 11 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 19 quarterback hits. It goes without saying that the Cardinals are counting on Golden to be their top pass rusher heading into the 2022 season.
Despite injuries to Golden and Ertz, the Arizona Cardinals have plenty of depth at both positions.
The Arizona Cardinals have two tight ends listed on the depth chart behind Ertz with Maxx Williams and Trey McBride. Williams could be the go-to at tight end if he can go on Sunday. If he can’t, then look for 2021 John Mackey Award Winner Trey McBride to get the call. While McBride did not show much in preseason from a productivity standpoint, he was returning from a back issue in camp so he can fare as a pleasant surprise in Week 1 if needed.
If Golden is a no-go, Dennis Gardeck will be the primary pass rusher. Gardeck, who had seven sacks in 2020, recorded zero last season. However, he nearly doubled his snaps on the defensive side of the ball and even started three contests, showing he does have the coaches’ trust.
Victor Dimukeje had a monster preseason in which he recorded two sacks for 19 yards and two tackles for losses. They also have rookies Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders who can fill in if Golden is unable to play.
While none of the above players will logistically replace Ertz’s and Golden’s production, they can at least undertake a committee approach in Week 1 versus the Chiefs. And while it isn’t an ideal setup, it is much better to see early-to-mid round picks plus a potential late-round sleeper filling in as opposed a cast-off or a player you’d rather not see on the field when an injury to a star player occurs.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference and Fox Sports)