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Budda Baker Adapting To Cast On Thumb

Notes: Devon Kennard won't play against Jets; No worries about MetLife Stadium field

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker wears a cast on his thumb in a regular season game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, September 27, 2020.
Safety Budda Baker will be sporting a cast on his right thumb again when the Cardinals face the Jets,

While Budda Baker has been welcomed back with open arms this week, the Pro Bowl safety admits 90 percent finger functionality isn't ideal.

Baker will return to the field on Sunday against the Jets after a one-game absence, but will do so with a cast protecting his surgically-repaired right thumb. The star defensive back played with the setup in Week 3 against the Lions and said there are drawbacks.

"It's definitely restrictive being a DB," Baker said. "I like to use my hands. Then again, I've got four other fingers.

"Wrapping up, it's going to be mostly my left hand, and then my right fingers without my thumb. For me, I did it in Detroit, got used to it. I missed a tackle the first play of the game but I got used to it, and now I know how to tackle without using that right thumb."

The Cardinals are lucky the injury happened to a star player who doesn't touch the ball. It allowed Baker to return quickly, which was needed after the team's defensive struggles against the Panthers last week.

"Thank God he's back," General Manager Steve Keim said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. "When you don't see him out on the field, it just shows how valuable he is. The guy is a human eraser. … He's our leader and our heart and soul on defense, and to not have him in the past week, it was extremely difficult."

Baker said he will wear the cast for the foreseeable future before likely paring down to a smaller splint until the thumb is fully healed. Baker was able to play one game before the surgery but said the status quo couldn't have remained.

"You really need the ligament that I tore," Baker said. "Within that ligament, if you don't get surgery, in time that ligament shrivels up. It (would have been) hard to bend my thumb again."

Deionte Thompson may start beside Baker at safety, as Jalen Thompson (ankle) and Chris Banjo (hamstring) are still making their way back from injuries. Baker said he has seen progress from the 2019 fifth-round pick.

"With young guys, the more they're on the field, the more comfortable they're going to feel," Baker said. "As long as we communicate – and I know I'm going to communicate to him throughout the game – I feel like there's going to be no problems."

KENNARD WON'T PLAY AGAINST THE JETS

Outside linebacker Devon Kennard will miss a second straight game with a calf injury. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips has been battling an illness in recent days and is listed as questionable, as is Banjo.

Tight end Darrell Daniels (thigh) practiced on Friday but missed the previous two days and is likewise questionable. With Maxx Williams on injured reserve, Jordan Thomas could be needed for a more substantial role behind Dan Arnold if Daniels cannot play.

Thomas, who joined the team after being cut by the Texans before the season, caught a 3-yard touchdown on his only offensive snap last week.

"We like what we've seen," Kingsbury said. "Very athletic. Has made a lot of plays when he's running the scout team offense."

For the Jets, quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) has been officially ruled out, while tackle Mekhi Becton (shoulder) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (shoulder) are doubtful.

New York has five players who are questionable: cornerback Bless Austin (calf), safety Ashtyn Davis (groin), wide receiver Chris Hogan (ribs/knee), linebacker Jordan Jenkins (shoulder/calf) and defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers (foot).

METLIFE STADIUM FIELD NOT A CONCERN TO HUMPHRIES

Multiple players and coaches – particularly from the 49ers – have been vocal in their dissatisfaction of the field turf used at MetLife Stadium, home of the Jets and the Giants.

San Francisco lost defensive end Nick Bosa (ACL), defensive end Solomon Thomas (ACL) and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (sprained ankle) to injuries there in Week 2.

The NFL has said the turf meets all standards and protocols for safety. Cardinals left tackle D.J. Humphries is not worried about the turf, and he won't be testing out different cleats before the game.

"Good to go," Humphries said. "Whatever God's got for me, he's got for me."

Images from practice at the Dignity Health Training Center, presented by Hyundai.

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