The Detroit Lions Week 15 opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, have declared their injury designations and have ruled out their All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, starting corner Robert Alford, and starting center Rodney Hudson.
Let’s take a look at the Cardinals’ additions to the COVID-19 list and injury designations for this week, with the starters bolded.
- C Rodney Hudson
With a significant portion of the league working their way through positive COVID-19 tests, the Cardinals have, for the most part, kept their roster healthy, but on Thursday, Hudson was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list.
On Friday, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury stated that Hudson would be ruled out for Sunday.
Hudson has started 10 games this season but he is not the dominating player he was with the Raiders prior to this season. Max Garica filled in for Hudson at center the two games he missed, but he has also been starting at right guard the last four games. It’s possible they shift Garcia back to center and promote Josh Jones back to right guard—he was starting there before being replaced by Garcia.
- WR DeAndre Hopkins (knee)
- CB Robert Alford (pectoral)
Hopkins suffered an MCL injury last Monday night in the Cardinals loss to the Rams, and will likely require surgery, which is expected to keep him out the next six weeks.
“Cardinals’ WR DeAndre Hopkins is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a sprained knee, but the team is hopeful to get him back at some point in the postseason,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter Tweeted. “Hopkins is seeking a second opinion with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. It is still uncertain whether Hopkins will need surgery. But either way, his regular is believed to have to come (to) an end.”
The feature player in the Cardinals passing attack, Hopkins loss will definitely impact how teams deploy coverages, as defenses will no longer need to dedicate double teams and bracket coverages to containing him.
The Cardinals still have plenty of offensive weapons, but his absence will hurt.
Kyler Murray on the loss of DeAndre Hopkins:
Freak injury, but the Cardinals have a deep receiver room. A big hit no question but “not every time you’re going to get to the end with your full army.”
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) December 16, 2021
Alford has quietly become an impact player in the Cardinals secondary.
“He doesn’t get beat much,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “He’s a veteran corner that has been in big games before, been on good defenses, and one thing he can do, he can cover his man. He can tackle, he’s tough and he’s competitive.”
In Alford’s absence, Bryon Murphy—who plays both inside and out—will likely start opposite Marcon Wilson.
- RB James Conner (ankle)
- TE Zach Ertz (hamstring)
- LG Justin Pugh (calf, illness)
- NT Corey Peters (knee)
- DL Jordan Phillips (thumb)
- DL Leki Fotu (shoulder)
- NT Zach Kerr (ribs)
Conner has been filling as the team’s starting running back as Chase Edmunds has been unable to play for the last month but Edmunds is finally healthy and ready to return. Conner injured his ankle in last Monday night’s game but he returned to a limited practice on Friday and Kingsbury is confident both backs will be available to play against the Lions.
Ertz practiced in full Wednesday and Thursday but popped up on the injury report Friday with a hamstring injury. Late week injuries are typically bad news so this will be worth monitoring.
Kingsbury stated he is “hopeful” starting left guard Pugh will be able to play on Sunday, but said they’ll have to see how he feels “over the next couple of days.”
Four of the Cardinals’ top five defensive linemen are listed as questionable, including two starters. All four were able to get in a limited practice on Friday and none of the Arizona media appear too worried about any of their statuses. Zach Allen—who is playing in place of J.J. Watt while he is on IR—is the only starter who is healthy.