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Cardinals Holding Out Hope For Chandler Jones Return

Team awaiting MRI results on All-Pro pass-rusher's biceps injury

Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones in a regular season game against the New York Jets on Sunday, October 11, 2020.
The Cardinals are holding out hope OLB Chandler Jones can return to the field this season.

The odds of Chandler Jones playing again this season do not look great, but Kliff Kingsbury hasn't completely shut that door.

The Cardinals coach said his star outside linebacker underwent an MRI on his biceps injury Monday, and the team is awaiting the results to determine the next course of action.

"We're hoping there may be some options out there, but until we've finalized what the MRI is and sit down with him, I don't have any answers on it just yet," Kingsbury said.

Kingsbury is pretty sure the biceps tendon is torn.

There have been situations in the past where players have decided to forgo surgery and play through the injury, including safety Adrian Wilson and outside linebacker Alex Okafor in recent years with the Cardinals, although bypassing surgical repair could lead to chronic weakness in the arm.

"What are the next steps?" Kingsbury said. "What are the options on the table for him? That will be a big part of our week."

Jones finished second in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2019 after registering 19 sacks. He was off to a slow start in 2020 with only one sack and then got injured in the first half against the Jets on Sunday.

Jones was shown testing out the arm on the sideline, but walked to the bench in pain after attempting a pass-rush move on teammate Jordan Phillips.

Dennis Gardeck had two sacks in relief of Jones, while Kylie Fitts was the highest-graded player on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Kingsbury is hoping to get back starting outside linebacker Devon Kennard (calf) soon, while Haason Reddick will also be involved in stepping in for Jones.

"It really falls on all of us," Kingsbury said. "Every player on this team, you've got to step your game up. Offensively, score more points. Special teams-wise, get better field position, and then defensively, we've got to find a way to generate pressure."

It remains to be seen if rookie inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons will get playing time on the edge. He was a versatile piece at Clemson, but was not moved to safety – his main position in college – when the Cardinals had a shortage there in Week 4 against the Panthers.

The coaching staff has consistently said it would like to get Simmons comfortable at one position before he branches out.

Kingsbury said the potential season-ending injury for Jones would not just be a blow to the team's production, but its chemistry.

"He's an incredible human being just to be around," Kingsbury said. "I've never seen him without a smile on his face; his work ethic; the energy he brings to the practice field, he's relentless. And even when teams are double- and triple-teaming him, he doesn't get down. He's excited for everybody's else success. He's a huge part of this deal."

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