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Cardinals Still Fighting Losses, On Field And Off

Kingsbury relieves Kugler of duties; offensive injuries mount

Coach Kliff Kingsbury looks over his play sheet prior to Monday night's game in Mexico.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury looks over his play sheet prior to Monday night's game in Mexico.

Kliff Kingsbury and his players were talking, post-Monday night loss in Mexico, about "flushing" the game and moving on.

But each day brings new drama, and it's not because there are "Hard Knocks" cameras around, and for the Cardinals coach, it probably muddles the message.

There were more injuries in the game – wide receiver Rondale Moore hurt his groin – to waylay the offense. Then came the news Tuesday that Kingsbury had fired offensive line coach and run game coordinator Sean Kugler after an unspecified incident Sunday night in Mexico City.

""We relieved him of his duties, and he was sent home Monday morning prior to the game," Kingsbury told "It's challenging anytime you make a staff change in that type of manner."

The line will be coached by assistant offensive line coach Brian Natkin and tight ends coach Steve Heiden.

The Cardinals were already trying to negotiate a short week, landing back in Arizona at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning with a home game against the Chargers – who are another team desperate for a win to stay in the AFC playoff chase. Kingsbury said during his press conference Tuesday the team will hold walkthroughs on Wednesday and Thursday before a practice Friday.

Perhaps quarterback Kyler Murray will return after missing two games with a hamstring injury. Kingsbury said backup Colt McCoy is banged up himself with hand, elbow and knee issues.

"Kyler has progressed quite a bit," Kingsbury said. "I know that was tough for him to watch. If he can play this week and be full speed and do what he does, I'm sure he'll find a way to be out there."

Kingsbury reiterated having injuries to four of five offensive line starters, having Murray not able to move around "full throttle" is a factor.

Perhaps wide receiver Hollywood Brown will return after nearly being ready to come off IR last week. Kingsbury acknowledged that is close to happening, although the Cardinals may have lost Moore and Moore replacement Greg Dortch is having an MRI on a thumb injury.

The idea before the season was a wide receiver trio of DeAndre Hopkins, Brown and Moore, and it grows more possible each they won't be together on the field at all this season.

"That has been unfortunate, but we have enough talented players out there to get it done," Kingsbury said. "We have a group up front that has been banged up as well, which makes it tough to sometimes do the things you do, and it's been that type of year for the offense."

Aside from the injuries and other distractions, however, there is still effort. Safety Budda Baker was blunt in saying postgame that he didn't think every player played hard the entirety of the game.

Kingsbury said players know if they are doing that, and everyone can see it on video. And he has no problem with Baker making the point.

"There were moments when you watch the tape that, you know when you sign up for this league you are a professional and you play to the end.," Kingsbury said. "That's the standard to this organization and this team, and nobody displays it more that Budda Baker.

"He's definitely the expert to speak on it."

The top images taken by the Cardinals team photographer during the 2022 Week 11 regular season game against the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City, presented by Earnhardt Auto Centers.