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Cardinals, Kliff Kingsbury Seek Answers On Defending Tight Ends

Notes: Sorting out right tackle; Lee injury could impact punting

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen makes a touchdown catch Sunday against the Cardinals.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen makes a touchdown catch Sunday against the Cardinals.

The stat lines from opposing tight ends have smacked the Cardinals in the collective face.

  • T.J. Hockensen 6 catches, 131 yards, 1 TD
  • Mark Andrews 8-112-1
  • Greg Olsen 6-75-2

"We definitely have to find an answer," Kingsbury said Monday, a day after the Cardinals lost, 38-20, to the Panthers. "We're going to work through that but it's been unacceptable the first three weeks the type of production the tight end position has had (against us)."

The Cards' defense had found moments where it had held up in its first two games, enough so that the Cardinals had a possession in which to win the game late against both the Lions and Ravens. That didn't happen against the Panthers, and there were issues – allowing a backup QB to throw for four touchdowns, 173 total rushing yards allowed – beyond the tight end.

But it's the tight end that's consistently been a thorn.

"It's personal, it's us," linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "We have to tighten up our coverage. When you look at the film, a lot of it is man-to-man. We've just got to win the one-on-one matchup."

The Cardinals have wanted to keep Budda Baker at free safety, with D.J. Swearinger playing strong safety and sharing tight end coverage with linebackers at times. Kingsbury was asked if the Cards might finally bend and put Baker back near the line of scrimmage so he could potentially help in tight end coverage.

"I would say everything is on the table right now," Kingsbury said.

Defensive improvement is crucial – against the tight ends and otherwise – for the Cardinals to start carving out wins. On D.J. Moore's 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown right before the half Sunday, Kingsbury said he actually liked the coverage call, but it was not executed correctly.

He also reiterated he and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph talk often every week and in-game, making sure both are on the same page about potential issues.

"He's called defenses for a long time and I have all the confidence in the world in what he is doing," Kingsbury said.

A chronological look at the Cardinals' third regular season game against the Panthers.


The Cardinals played both Justin Murray – who had started each of the first two games – and Jordan Mills at right tackle Sunday. Mills got the bulk of the work, with 59 snaps, while Murray was given 16 snaps.

Kingsbury wasn't announcing any permanent starter Monday, saying the Cardinals "feel good" about both players.

"I was impressed with Jordan being able to step in," Kingsbury said. "He did get fatigued towards the end, but initially I thought he had some nice plays and I thought he did a nice job in the run game."


Kingsbury said the Cardinals basically got out of the game injury-free aside from the hip flexor suffered by punter Andy Lee. Kingsbury said the team was still figuring out how it would be handled, but he later said during his weekly radio appearance on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station, that a solution would come Tuesday.

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