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Return Of Earl Watford Helps Banged-Up Line

Posted Oct 2, 2017

Notes: Palmer absorbing too many hits; Frustrating day with replay

The Cardinals re-signed offensive lineman Earl Watford Monday.

Earl Watford has returned.

The versatile offensive lineman, who was called the Cards’ “Swiss army knife” last season by offensive line coach Harold Goodwin, left in free agency to sign with Jacksonville. Released at the end of the preseason, the Cardinals brought Watford back Monday in an effort to stabilize a tenuous line.

The Cards had been forced to play rookie Will Holden, who had been practicing at tackle, at starting left guard Sunday because of late-week injuries. Early last week, the hope had been that guard Mike Iupati and tackle D.J. Humphries would return against the 49ers. Both players suffered setbacks in Thursday’s practice, with Iupati deciding to get surgery to repair a bone spur in his elbow that was affecting his tendon.

Iupati went to injured reserve. Humphries, who suffered another slight tear in his knee, coach Bruce Arians said, went from probably playing to missing at least a couple of more games. Arians said he hoped Humphries would return Week 6 against Tampa Bay.

Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche re-injured his calf in the same workout and missed Sunday’s game.

Holden only practice at guard on Friday after working at tackle all week.

“We stuck Will in there on Friday, and he got a practice in, no pads, and that’s really a short-yardage, goal line, red zone (day) – it’s not out on the field, two days’ worth of work and studying the guy he was going against,” Arians said.

Watford, a fourth-round pick in 2013, started at both guard and tackle last season and provides an option for Arians. There is a chance guard Alex Boone (pectoral injury) could return this week as well. Watford started 10 games for the Cards last season -- seven at right guard, three at right tackle.

“It’s good, because (Earl) knows the offense, he knows what to do,” tackle Jared Veldheer said. “It’s not like starting new.”

To make room for Watford on the room, the Cardinals released offensive lineman Vinston Painter, whom they just promoted from the practice squad Saturday.

PALMER’S GREATEST HITS

Quarterback Carson Palmer was officially hit 16 times Sunday, and was sacked six times for a second straight game. He has been hit an NFL-high 43 times in four games.

“You never want to see your quarterback get hit that many times,” Arians said.

Arians called Palmer “tough as nails.” But more hits means more chance at injury, and that’s something all the Cardinals know the team cannot afford.

“As an offensive lineman, you don’t ever want to get your quarterback hit like that,” Veldheer said. “If your guy gets by you and gets a hit on the quarterback, that’s a bad feeling. Because you just never know.”

FRUSTRATION WITH REPLAY

Arians clearly wasn’t thrilled with either of the near-touchdown calls that went against the Cardinals Sunday. A catch by running back Andre Ellington was initially called a TD, but was overturned even though Arians believes replay didn’t show enough to make that happen.

Asked about it, Arians would only say, “You’d have to ask (the league office in) New York.”

John Brown’s toes-in-or-out overtime near-TD was called incomplete. But Arians thought a stadium video view showed him in.

“The thing that I bitched about in all of the competition committee and league meetings is why we don’t use the stadium feed in instant replay in New York because it’s so easy,” Arians said. “Sometimes, those sight lines are much better when it’s a game that’s not a Monday night game or a Sunday night game (with extra cameras). Obviously, the 80,000 people that were in that stadium, counting players, coaches, and everybody else, saw two feet inbounds. But, that shot wasn’t sent to New York.”

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