The bad news is that the Arizona Cardinals are 1-5 and their season is likely over at this point, but the good news is, their poor record does not reflect how good or bad this team really is. Instead, the Redbirds have been forced to play all six games without quarterback Kyler Murray and five games without Budda Baker, arguably their two best players.
Ironically enough, the Cardinals found ways to stay competitive in most of their games this season. And if they had Murray under center instead of the stagnant Joshua Dobbs, they could easily be contenders in the early stages of the playoff race - ditto for if they had Baker lining up at safety.
Now that their respective 21-day practice windows have opened, it won’t be long before we see the duo competing on the game field. However, don’t expect it to happen this weekend, since the Cards are rightfully not rushing these two back into action.
Arizona Cardinals will take it slow with Murray, Baker’s imminent returns
Jonathan Gannon, per usual, isn’t saying much about the situation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, he at least gave some insight involving Murray:
""I know the work that he's put in, the people that have helped him get to this point -- you can't praise enough the whole medical staff, all that -- the performance staff, the doctors, all that stuff. But he hasn't taken a snap in this offense, either. So, we got to see him do a lot of things. But I know he's excited to get out there and start playing some football.""- Jonathan Gannon
Source: Cardinals' Kyler Murray, Budda Baker back at practice by Josh Weinfuss, ESPN.com
Translation: Gannon and Company aren’t playing Murray until the fifth-year quarterback shows that he can efficiently run the offense. Having been around the team since mini-camp, Murray knows the offense, so that’s a brownie point. But there is a huge difference between knowing the offense and proving you can run the offense.
As for Baker, there will also be no rush, as soft-tissue injuries can be reaggravated quite easily. Therefore, I wouldn’t expect either Murray or Baker to take the playing field until at least Week 9, if the Arizona Cardinals don’t just decide to use the entire 21-day window. In the latter case, they will return in Week 10.