Quarterback Logan Thomas talks over plays with assistant head coach Tom Moore in Denver Sunday.
As he was going through his one season as interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Bruce Arians has often joked the team still made the playoffs despite so many injuries he was playing guys off the street and he didn't even know who they were.
His current Cardinals, "it's not that bad yet," Arians said Monday. "I mean, I know everybody's name."
That's true, although too many name players are getting hurt, like defensive end Calais Campbell (out one-to-three weeks with a knee) and linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (headed to IR-designated to return with a knee, which means eight lost games.)
More importantly, Arians does see another discrepancy between this team and his 2012 Colts, and it isn't in the Cards' advantage. Those Colts ended up with 13 guys going to IR – but their quarterback, Andrew Luck, stayed in place all season. The Cardinals cannot say the same.
"When you get to play with your quarterback," Arians said, "you can overcome a lot of the other things. When it's your quarterback, that stability of your offense changes a little bit."
As of Monday, the Cardinals and Arians can still see a scenario where any one of the three quarterbacks on their roster could start Sunday against Washington. Carson Palmer is better with his shoulder, but needs to practice. Drew Stanton would have to pass his concussion protocol. And third-stringer Logan Thomas waits, a rookie who probably isn't ready but may be forced to be after a rocky debut in Denver.
There is still a chance the Cardinals could sign another quarterback. That would come in the next day or so depending on how Palmer and Stanton come along. Arians said whomever they sign it would have to be a player familiar with Arians' protections so he could at least be a serviceable backup to Thomas.
"We'll formulate a game plan to beat Washington and then see what quarterback is available to do what he does best," Arians said. "I'm comfortable with Logan once he gets all the snaps and all the reps that we'll be able to put out a plan for him to be successful. We feel like one of the other two will be back."
Of course, later in his press conference, Arians said there was a "good chance" neither Palmer nor Stanton will be ready.
"I have a lot of room to improve," said Thomas, who completed only one of eight passes, although that went for 81 yards and a touchdown. "I'll have the opportunity to do so, unless one of the other guys comes back."
Meanwhile, the rest of the team can only try and rally to what is available.
"You don't worry," veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly said. "As a player you try to worry about things you can control. I can't do nothing to help Carson or Drew. I got to worry about getting my (stuff) right. The QB goes down, it means the defense has to make a play. Special teams has to make a play. You can't relax."
Instability at quarterback has hurt the offense, clearly. Between Stanton and Thomas – and the seven drops Arians counted from receivers – the
Cards completed on 12 of 34 passes against the Broncos. Leading receiver Michael Floyd was a non-factor.
On defense, the Cardinals have to find a way to make up for the loss of Campbell and Shaughnessy, two players who mean a ton to the team's stout run defense. When Campbell got hurt on the first series of the second half Sunday, the Broncos had four yards rushing on seven attempts. They had 88 yards on 21 attempts after that.
"Maybe I'm not as good as I thought because they started running the ball on us," linebacker Larry Foote said of Campbell's departure.
That was with Shaughnessy. Without both Campbell and Shaughnessy "there's no devastation" Arians insisted, but the Cards are getting thinner. The coach said much of the run defense issues in Denver came because of mental errors.
The injuries, Foote said, won't hurt the Cardinals mentally. "We're used to it," Foote said. "Not like we're in awe. We've been dealing with it since training camp."
Added Arians, "You just keep playing hard. You coach them up to play hard."
STILL MORE INJURIES
Arians said cornerbacks Patrick Peterson (low ankle sprain) and Justin Bethel (AC sprain in shoulder) should be "fine." Tight end Troy Niklas has a high-ankle sprain and was wearing a walking boot Monday.
Images of the top 10 photos from the Cardinals matchup with the Broncos