James Conner had been off to one of the best starts of his career this season.
Now the Cardinals have to find a way to get along without their veteran running back and emotional leader.
As feared, the knee injury that knocked Conner out of Sunday's game against the Bengals will keep him out at least another month. The Cardinals placed Conner on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, meaning he must sit a minimum of four games.
The earliest Conner can return is the Nov. 12 home game against the Falcons. He will miss at least the road trips to L.A., Seattle and Cleveland and a home game against the Ravens.
"I don't think a lot changes," offensive coordinator Drew Petzing said. "A.D. (running backs coach Autry Denson) does a good job getting all those guys ready, and I think you saw that when (Conner) went out in the game.
"I think Emari (Demercado) did a great job with that and I expect everybody in the room to pick up the slack."
The Cardinals also made a practice squad move, releasing linebacker Davion Taylor and re-signing cornerback Quavian White.
Behind Conner the Cardinals have been playing with their depth all season. Keaontay Ingram is No. 2, although he has missed the last two games with a neck injury. Demercado, the rookie from TCU who already had been getting third-down snaps, had 10 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals.
The team claimed Tony Jones off waivers from the Saints this week, and still have veterans Corey Clement and Damien Williams on the practice squad. Clement has been elevated the past two games but has not played an offensive snap. Petzing said the plan to distribute Conner's snaps would be "fluid" and likely will vary week-to-week.
Conner has 364 yards this season on only 68 carries, a robust 5.4 yards per carry. Both his total yards and his per-carry average are eighth in the NFL.
"Nobody is going to fill James' shoes perfectly," Petzing said.
The Cardinals have also used wide receiver Rondale Moore in the backfield for a few snaps each game.
Conner has never played every game in a season during his seven-year NFL career. He missed four games last season and two for the Cardinals in 2021.