Leki Fotu has been playing better in 2023 than we have seen during the first three years of his career. Fotu’s PFF Grade may be an abysmal 45.7, which ranks 110th out of 125 qualified defensive tackles this season, but he’s also been churning out strong performances in recent outings for a struggling Arizona Cardinals team.
Fotu has played in 10 games this season with nine starts, and he’s accumulated 21 total tackles to go with 14 stops, 2.5 sacks, three hurries, and six total pressures. Overall, it’s been a more encouraging season from Fotu, but he may end up in unsung hero mode for the remainder of the season.
Despite a broken hand, it may not deter Fotu, something that the NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport stated on X. If Fotu misses no time with this injury, then he should at least keep playing a significant role for the Cards over the final six games.
Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle may display some unsung toughness
Playing through the injury will also put Fotu’s toughness on full display if he manages to finish the season. Few players taking the field for a 2-9 team do this, as most wind up on injured reserve. So regardless of how much playing time Fotu gets from here on out, it’s a testament to a rebuilding Arizona Cardinals team that is still looking to forge an identity on defense.
The Cardinals defensive line has seen a ton of turmoil this season, with L.J. Collier and Carlos Watkins barely seeing the field before they were sidelined with season-ending injuries. Jonathan Ledbetter has been banged up all season, and Fotu even missed one contest earlier in the year.
Let’s hope the fourth-year defensive tackle not only plays through the injury effectively, but is effective enough to show he deserves a spot on the defensive line in 2024. Fotu’s presence will put the Cardinals one step closer to stability in what are still the early stages of the Jonathan Gannon-Monti Ossenfort regime.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference, grades and additional statistics provided by PFF [subscription])