Star running back’s pending return may give the Arizona Cardinals an added bonus

While Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray will start Sunday, there is also a possibility running back James Conner will also return in Week 10.
Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) breaks past Cincinnati Bengals safety Nick Scott
Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) breaks past Cincinnati Bengals safety Nick Scott / Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner has been one of the NFL’s most injury-prone players since his rookie season in Pittsburgh, but when he’s healthy, few backs in the league are as effective as the 28-year-old. We don’t know if Conner will stick around following the 2023 season, but while he’s in the desert, expect him to give it 1,000 percent until Week 18. 

And his big return could also come in conjunction with Kyler Murray’s, as Zach Gershman of reported that Conner is one of several Cardinals players listed as questionable. If Conner returns, then the Cards will have one of the best backs in the league this season to supplement Murray, and it will be a huge help to the returning quarterback. 

James Conner will be a huge help for the Arizona Cardinals if he returns

As of Week 5, Conner’s PFF Grade sits at 85.5, and although he’s missed the previous four games with a knee injury, it still ranks as the third in the NFL out of 59 qualified backs. Also despite missing five games, Conner is still 29th in the league with 364 rushing yards on 68 carries, giving him 5.4 yards per. 

Also in five games, he’s forced 18 missed tackles, and has averaged 3.5 yards after the first contact, so Conner has more than lived up to his billing as a “bruiser.” His presence in Week 10 will take some pressure off of Kyler Murray, especially since we also know that rookie Emari Demercado will not be good to go this weekend. 

We will know for sure whether Conner is playing if the Arizona Cardinals activate him by Saturday afternoon. If not, then the Cards could have a tough time getting things going with the ground game as they will again turn to Keontay Ingram to lead a patchwork group that struggled last week in Cleveland. 


(Statistics and grades provided by PFF [subscription])

Source: NFL Week 10 injuries: Deebo Samuel, James Conner set to return by NFL Nation, ESPN