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Alex Okafor Hurt; Cardinals Sign Jason Babin

Posted Jan 12, 2016

Linebacker's season ends on NFI with toe injury; Redding also put on IR as Martin promoted

Cardinals linebacker Alex Okafor is out for the season, placed on the Non-Football-Injury list Tuesday with a toe problem.

The Cardinals had a bye week, but it doesn’t mean they got through unscathed, and now they are missing a starter for the postseason.

Alex Okafor was placed on the Non-Football-Injury reserve list Tuesday with a toe injury, a move that ends the outside linebacker’s season. To replace Okafor on the roster, the Cardinals signed veteran linebacker Jason Babin, who was with the Ravens for a month this season after spending training camp with the Jets.

Coach Bruce Arians would only say that Okafor hurt himself over the weekend, away from the football field. He declined to give specifics. “You’ll have to talk to Alex,” he said.

The Cardinals also put defensive tackle Cory Redding on injured reserve after Redding re-injured his ankle in the season finale. The team promoted inside linebacker Gabe Martin from the practice squad to fill that spot on the roster. Arians said Redding will need at least a month to recover from his injured ankle and “we needed the fresh bodies.”

Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy was signed to the practice squad to replace Martin.

Okafor finished the season with 39 tackles, two sacks and 13 quarterback pressures while playing in 13 games. He missed three games during the regular season with a calf injury.

“It’s just the next guy up,” Arians said, adding that rookie Alani Fua played some outside linebacker against the Seahawks and that Kareem Martin has played well of late. Arians also said Babin will have a role against the Packers Saturday, although Babin said he isn’t sure what that role will be yet.

“Coach did mention I’d have a role,” Babin said. “It may be a loose definition. What is a role, I don’t know. I’m just here to work, and happy to be playing football.”

“I’ve played in a defense where the verbiage was pretty similar,” Babin added. “Hopefully it will be a pretty smooth transition.”

Babin has 64½ sacks in his 12-year career. He had two sacks in 16 games with the Jets in 2014 before appearing in two games with the Ravens earlier this season.

The Cardinals also have Dwight Freeney at outside linebacker, although he will remain a situational pass rusher. Rookie Shaq Riddick is expected to remain inactive on game days.

Outside linebacker Markus Golden was back on the field to retake his starting role after missing the finale against the Seahawks with a bruised knee. He’s wearing a brace, but Arians said that was something Golden did in college anyway and Golden insisted he will be ready Saturday. (Defensive tackle Josh Mauro, who had been out with a calf injury, also returned to practice.)

Fua, who played outside linebacker in college, had been playing inside all season before the Cardinals moved him a couple weeks ago with Golden hurting.

“The past two weeks they’ve been I guess you could say introducing me to the position and now I’m actually meeting with the outside linebackers,” Fua said. “We’ll see how it works out.

“I kind of rewired for inside and now I’m rewiring for outside. It feels natural, but we’ll see.”

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