| Arizona Republic
Cardinals bye week update
With the Cardinals on their bye week, we look ahead to the rest of the season and what areas the team needs to improve upon to stay competitive in the NFC West.
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed on Monday that two of the team’s players tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, but said subsequent contract tracing showed limited risk and added that Sunday’s round of testing all came back negative.
Kingsbury wouldn’t identify the two players who tested positive and said, “it will be business as usual when it comes to practice (Monday).”
About five hours after Kingsbury met with reporters via a video conference call, Cardinals staroutside linebacker Devon Kennard, formerly of the Detroit Lions, announced via Twitter that he has contracted the virus.
“I learned that like many others, I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Kennard wrote. “Thankfully, I feel completely normal so far. Please keep my family and I in your prayers we navigate this. I look forward to being back on the field with my teammates as soon as I am cleared and it’s safe to do so!”
The Cardinals (5-2) are returning from their bye week as they prepare for Sunday’s home game against the Dolphins (4-3). Arizona players were off last week from Thursday through Sunday but were required to stay in town and check in at the team facility daily between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. for regularly scheduled COVID testing.
Asked if he was concerned about a particular position group possibly being affected despite the promising contract-tracing methods or if some further positive tests possibly might surface later this week, Kingsbury said, “I’m not. You never know with this situation because it’s pretty fluid day-to-day, but I feel like having the all-negatives come back from Sunday was a big step in the right direction and I’m just hopeful that continues throughout the week.”
The two players who tested positive will be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which could possibly keep them out of Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. The players will be quarantined until such time as they show no symptoms and have tested negative multiple times.
Previously, the Cardinals have had only one player land on the reserve/COVID-19 list. It was wide receiver KeeSean Johnson, who was placed on the list two days before the team’s season opener at the 49ers. He’s appeared in just two games since, catching three passes for 29 yards.
Navigating through the season with occasional positive COVID tests flaring up has been a challenge for every NFL team. In some cases, one or two positive cases have spread to more and more players and staff members, forcing team facilities to close and practices and meetings to be held virtually.
Some teams have handled things better than others. Kingsbury knows the significance of what can happen should the Cardinals, winners of three straight and sitting a game out of first place in the NFC West, not fully adhere to all health and safety protocols.
One slip up or irresponsible decision could impact the entire team and its pursuit of returning to the postseason for the first time in five seasons.
“I’ve talked about it since really July or training camp, that it wasn’t a matter of ‘if,’ it was a matter of ‘when’ this would occur,” Kingsbury said. “It’s how teams handle it the best. Those teams are going to be at the top of this deal. We understand that.
“So, as these things pop up, we have to be able to continue to move forward and next-man up and all these things we’ve talked about throughout the season and we continue to talk about it. The guys, I think, have a good understanding of how we’ll handle this, how we’ll move forward, and we can’t let it affect our mentality or how we approach next week’s game.”
Kingsbury talked last week about how important it was for the team to maintain its edge and energy, especially coming off last Sunday night’s overtime victory over the division-leading Seahawks. Kingsbury, though, doesn’t believe the two positive tests will negate any of good vibes the Cardinals have been feeling.
“No, I don’t,” he said. “We addressed last year, coming out of the bye and how poorly we played, and I think the first step is always recognizing that and addressing it. We’ve adjusted our schedule, we’ve adjusted some things.
“I think just by the nature of guys having to stay in town to get tested will be good for our focus and continuity, so I don’t see this being a problem as we move forward.”
The Cardinals have the league’s No.1 offense, averaging 419.1 yards per game, and they rank second overall in rushing offense, averaging 160.7 yards per game.
Have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Reach McManaman at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch and every Wednesday night from 7-9 on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.
News and information you can trust. Start your online subscription.