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Cardinals Will Be Without J.J. Watt Against Packers

Notes: Defensive lineman has shoulder problem; With Max Garcia hurting, center a question

The Cardinals will be without defensive lineman J.J. Watt againstt he Packers Thursday night after he was ruled out with a shoudler injury.
The Cardinals will be without defensive lineman J.J. Watt againstt he Packers Thursday night after he was ruled out with a shoudler injury.

The Packers are dealing with Covid issues, but the Cardinals aren't coming into Thursday night's game unscathed.

Defensive lineman J.J. Watt was ruled out Thursday with a shoulder injury, after he was listed as DNP in practice all week.

Watt has had an excellent 2021 season. According to ESPN, Watt is among the top three interior defensive linemen in the league -- with the Rams' Aaron Donald and Eagles' Javon Hargrave -- and actually rates the highest when combining pass-rush win rate and run-stop win rate.

The good news is that Watt's absence will be helped by the return of edge rusher Chandler Jones and defensive lineman Zach Allen, both of whom are returning from Covid. Defensive lineman Corey Peters remains on the Covid list, with Rashard Lawrence (calf) questionable to play in the game.

"Corey Peters being out with the Covid situation is tough," Kingsbury said of the defensive line prior to the Watt news. "But I expect Zach to be back and be a full go on Thursday. It was big getting Jordan Phillips back and the last couple of weeks, he's had a nice roll. And some of the young guys continue to progress.

"They're playing well together and we just have to keep it going,"

CENTER IN PLAY WITH GARCIA QUESTIONABLE

With Rodney Hudson already on injured reserve, Kingsbury called center Max Garcia a game-day decision with an Achilles issue. Kingsbury said if Garcia cannot go, third-stringer Sean Harlow will take the reins. Through seven games, Harlow has only played 52 snaps this season without allowing a single sack in limited playing time. He briefly played at center at the end of the Houston game last week.

"He has gotten a bunch of reps (at center) in our system," Kingsbury said. "So, there is a high level of confidence in how he will be able to perform if he's called upon."

Kingsbury said Justin Pugh and Kelvin Beachum can play center to back up Harlow if necessary.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is dealing with a hamstring injury, and the wideout has not practiced this week because of it. But with the Cardinals set to play their first primetime game this season, Kingsbury believes the Pro Bowler will play.

"It's a national TV game, so I know he'll try to be out there," Kingsbury said. "He likes the bright lights and usually plays really good."

KINGSBURY ON THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF PRIME TIME

Kingsbury says he is a fan of primetime games despite the negatives of preparing for a matchup in a short week.

"I like that your team is on a big stage," Kingsbury said. "I think it's great for the guys. The rest and recovery process is tough for the players and staff, but it's a great showcase game for the organization. So, I see the pluses and minuses to it."

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