Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 29, 2018 at 2:10 am.


–S Budda Baker (knee), LT D.J. Humphries (knee) and WR Chad Williams (ankle) practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and after each of them missed the past two games because of injuries, head coach Steve Wilks said he is hopeful all three starters will play Sunday when the Cardinals play at the Packers.

“It’s a plus,” Wilks said of Baker’s return to practice. “He was part of that energy (Wednesday). He practiced at a different level. His level of communication with the other guys out there is phenomenal. He’s a pretty good player.”

Wilks said Humphries and Williams both looked good during their limited reps and hinted that both players could be full participants by Thursday or Friday. Also listed as limited on Wednesday were safety Rudy Ford (heel), defensive tackle Corey Peters (back) and guard Jeremy Vujnovich (hamstring).

–LBs Deone Bucannon (chest) and Haason Reddick (neck) did not practice on Wednesday, although there is hope Reddick will be available on Sunday in Green Bay after suffering a stinger during Sunday’s 45-10 loss to the Chargers.

–LB Josh Bynes was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Monday after suffering a thumb injury during Sunday’s loss at the Chargers. That leaves Gerald Hodges as the new starter and rookie Zeke Turner as the only backup at inside linebacker. “When you start looking at attrition, it’s like that across the league right now with offensive linemen, linebackers, etc., so next-man-up mentality is what we have,” head coach Steve Wilks said.

–DE Cameron Malveaux was signed off the Dolphins’ practice squad on Wednesday. Malveaux has played in nine games for the Dolphins since joining them last season as an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Houston.

–LB Thurston Armbrister was signed to the Cardinals’ practice squad. He has played in 30 career games with the Lions and Jaguars since entering the league in 2015 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Miami.

–WR Jalen Tolliver was re-signed to the practice squad. DT Vincent Valentine was released from the practice squad.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: In what could be his final NFL season, it’s worth keeping an eye on WR Larry Fitzgerald. He has five touchdowns in his last five games and he’s scored at least one in all five games he’s played in his career against the Packers, Sunday’s opponent at Lambeau Field. Fitzgerald has three touchdown receptions in three regular-season games against Green Bay and three TD catches in two postseason games against the Packers.

GAME PLAN: The Cardinals continue to try and tweak their offensive playbook under new coordinator Byron Leftwich, although the results haven’t been seen on the scoreboard. The Cardinals have been doing a better job of utilizing running back David Johnson, both as a runner and as a pass catcher, and that involves lining him up on occasion as a slot receiver and a pure wideout. Look for that trend to continue on Sunday in Green Bay. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen hasn’t had much time to throw and that figures to be the case again against a Packers defense that loves to blitz. It’ll be interesting to see if rookie right tackle Korey Cunningham can handle the pressure in his first start on the right side of the line in place of veteran Andre Smith, who was released.

Defensively, the Cardinals are throwing darts when it comes to finding a capable starter to play cornerback opposite perennial Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson. This week, it likely will be David Amerson, who was working with the first-string unit in practice on Wednesday. He will be replacing Jamar Taylor and Bene’ Benwikere, both of whom were released within the span of a week. Look for Peterson to shadow Davante Adams throughout the game. The Cardinals will try to establish some back-end pressure against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, forcing him to move up in the pocket against their interior defensive front instead of being allowed to side-step his way out of trouble. The Cardinals lead the NFC in sacks with 37, so they can bring the pressure.

–Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson vs. Packers WR Davante Adams. Adams is on pace to set Packers single-season records for receptions (112), receiving yards (1,519) and receiving touchdowns (18). Peterson has been one of the league’s best shutdown corners, but hasn’t shadowed as many receivers this season as he has in the past. Look for him to return to one-on-one, man coverage with Adams throughout Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field.

–Cardinals RT Korey Cunningham vs. Packers DE Dean Lowry. Cunningham’s only action this year has come the past two weeks as he filled in at starting left tackle for the injured D.J. Humphries and now, he’s being asked to start at right tackle following the release of veteran Andre Smith. He could have his hands full this week against Lowry, the Packers’ third-year pro out of Northwestern. A key for Cunningham, a former basketball player and tight end, will be how well he uses his feet and speed to counter any moves Lowry tries to make against him.