Through the first couple weeks of the 2023 campaign, the Arizona Cardinals defensive line suffered two significant losses. A pair of biceps injuries have sidelined both L.J. Collier and Carlos Watkins indefinitely. However, help could be on the way for the Redbirds if a report that is currently circulating turns out to be true.
According to NFL insider Aaron Wilson, the Cards are set to add free-agent defensive tackle Roy Lopez to the practice squad. The former sixth-round draft choice of the Houston Texans was released by that club back in late August with an injury settlement. A bum hamstring seemingly caused Houston to move on from Lopez, but the Tempe native is apparently returning home to take a job with Arizona.
Lopez spent four years at New Mexico State University (2016-19), before transferring to the University of Arizona in 2020. In 39 career games for the Aggies, the 195th-overall pick of the 2021 draft totaled 136 tackles (19.5 for a loss) and eight sacks. In five appearances for the Wildcats, Lopez was credited with 18 tackles, and a sack.
Arizona Cardinals are acquiring a defensive tackle with 29 starts on his NFL resume
As a rookie back in '21, Lopez racked up 31 tackles and a sack in 16 games (15 starts) for the Texans. Last fall, the 6 foot 2, 318 pounder tallied 36 tackles and a sack in the 17 matchups (14 starts) he appeared in for the team.
There's a very good possibility that Lopez will be elevated to the Cardinals 53-man roster rather quickly. With Collier and Watkins sidelined for the foreseeable future, the depleted defensive line currently consists of Jonathan Ledbetter, Leki Fotu, Kevin Strong and first-year pro Dante Stills. Lopez will join additional options such as Eric Banks, Ben Stille and Jacob Slade on the "Big Red" practice squad.
At the very least, Lopez can bring some much-needed experience to Arizona's defensive front. The first step is to get the 26-year-old under contract. An ample amount of playing time with the Cards could come shortly thereafter for the capable Lopez.
(Statistics provided by Pro and College Football Reference)