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Cardinals Have Short Week To Put Rams In Rear View

Hopkins, Conner have MRIs as team prepares for Detroit trip

Linebacker Zaven Collins celebrates recovering an onside kick against the Rams Monday night, although the Cardinals couldn't complete the comeback in a 30-23 loss.
Linebacker Zaven Collins celebrates recovering an onside kick against the Rams Monday night, although the Cardinals couldn't complete the comeback in a 30-23 loss.

The two large TVs at one end of the cafeteria inside the Dignity Health Training Center Tuesday morning were tuned to, as usual, ESPN and NFL Network.

In this particular moment in time, even with the sound muted, the chyrons at the bottom of the screens made plain the topic of the day. One read "Did the Rams expose the Cardinals?" The other "Are the Cardinals in the same class as the Buccaneers and Packers?"

It was typical grist for the debate mill, in-the-moment hyperbole based not on the Cardinals' body of work but only on Monday's outcome – which, no matter how it is parsed, was still a disappointing loss, 30-23, to the Rams at home.

The Cards have not lost back-to-back games this season. They don't expect this to be any different, with a trip to Detroit upcoming.

"We have responded well (to losses) to this point and hopefully we do that again on a short week," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "We flushed it last night, discussed it, and talked about moving forward."

Playoff seedings are not the focus, Kingsbury said, even after the single loss dumped the Cardinals from No. 1 to No. 3 in the NFC. They are still favored to win the NFC West with four games left. The Cards own the tiebreaker over the Rams for now, in addition to its one-game lead over L.A.

As Covid rips through the NFL – a record 37 players league-wide were put on the Covid list Monday, with another 29 on Tuesday – the Cardinals have managed to sidestep that issue for now. But injuries could still be a factor.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins sat out the last drive with a leg injury, and Kingsbury said Hopkins underwent an MRI Tuesday. So too did running back James Conner, who came off the field at the end of the game limping with an ankle injury.

The Cardinals aren't practicing Wednesday, instead planning just a walkthrough and meetings.

"Everybody deals with these short weeks," Kingsbury said. "You try to get ahead the previous week knowing (Tuesday) was going to move pretty quickly. Our staff was working on some Detroit stuff late last week so we could get it to the players early and try to make the week resemble a normal week as much as possible, at least from a mental standpoint."

The Cards will also have a short week after the Lions game, with a Christmas Saturday night game at home against the Colts -- another national TV game in the spotlight.

Justin Pugh was active but didn't start at left guard coming off his calf injury – he played five special teams snaps. Kingsbury said when Pugh is fully healthy, he will return to the starting lineup over Sean Harlow.

The Cards also should get running back Chase Edmonds back this weekend against the Lions. Kingsbury was already praising his opponent – the Lions have just one win – noting that "we haven't beat (quarterback) Jared Goff since I've been here."

A chance to clinch a playoff spot will again be available. Clinching the division not yet. But at least for a week, bouncing back with a win would slide the Cardinals off the debate shows, and let some other team absorb the shrapnel for a week.

"It's all in front of us right now," quarterback Kyler Murray said. "The great thing about (Monday) is it was that atmosphere that you need and you want as a competitor. This was a big-time football game against a great team. They got the best of us tonight, but I know the guys in the locker room. We'll be back for sure."


With the return of long snapper Aaron Brewer from IR, the Cardinals released fill-in long snapper Beau Brinkley on Tuesday. The team also cut linebacker Nate Hall from the practice squad.