This coming Sunday, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray will make his long-awaited 2023 debut. For almost a year, the two-time Pro Bowler has been striving to get back on the playing field. Finally, the "Bird Gang" has a reason to get excited about a squad that has compiled a 1-8 record through the season's first nine weeks.
Unfortunately, Murray may have to operate behind an offensive line that is dealing with a rash of injuries. That's not exactly ideal for a diminutive passer who has spent the last 11 months recovering from a torn ACL. Will Arizona's banged-up blocking unit be able to provide protection for Murray, the all-important face of the franchise?
Actually, there are a contingent of Cardinals fans who feel that the club could be putting Murray in harm's way during the Week 10 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. An examination of the situation reveals that the concerns could be well warranted.
There's a possibility that the Redbirds could be without 60% of the team's first-string offensive line when they take on the Falcons at State Farm Stadium. Starting left guard Elijah Wilkinson is currently on the injured-reserve list with a neck ailment, and will not be eligible to return until November 26th. Trystan Colon, Wilkinson's replacement, has been out since he injured his knee back on October 29th.
Injuries are beginning to take a toll on the Arizona Cardinals blocking unit
Two additional starting blockers for the Cards left last weekend's embarrassing 27-0 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Left tackle D.J. Humphries was sidelined with an ankle injury during the contest, and never returned. An x-ray revealed no damage, but it's not yet known if Humphries will be in the lineup when Atlanta comes to town on Sunday.
Right guard Will Hernandez hurt his knee during the clash with the Browns, and also failed to return. Like Humphries, the 6 foot 2, 332 pounder's status for the battle with the Falcons is up in the air as well.
At the moment, center Hjalte Froholdt and right tackle Paris Johnson Jr. are the only starters from Arizona's offensive line who are healthy. There's a chance that Johnson could be asked to be Murray's blindside protector if Humphries is forced to miss some time. If that occurs, 34-year-old Kelvin Beachum would likely fill the vacancy at right tackle.
With both Wilkinson and Colon sidelined, veteran Dennis Daley has taken over at left guard. Carter O'Donnell, a late-summer pickup from the Indianapolis Colts, would appear to be the "next man up" at right guard if Hernandez can't suit up versus the Falcons.
The last thing the organization wants is for their 5 foot 10, 207 pound signal-caller to be running for his life behind a makeshift group of blockers. Hopefully, Humphries and Hernandez are quick healers. Things could get real hairy for Murray, and the rest of the Cards offense for that matter, if they're not.