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Devon Kennard, Byron Murphy Activated From COVID-19 Reserve List

Cardinals' defense getting healthier as crucial matchup against Bills awaits

OLB Devon Kennard could be back for Sunday's game against the Bills after missing Week 9 due to COVID-19.
OLB Devon Kennard could be back for Sunday's game against the Bills after missing Week 9 due to COVID-19.

The Cardinals are tracking to have two key starters back on Sunday, as cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. and outside linebacker Devon Kennard were activated from the COVID-19 reserve list in advance of Wednesday's practice.

The pair missed the Week 9 loss to the Dolphins after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Cardinals were hit particularly hard at cornerback last week, as Dre Kirkpatrick (thigh) was inactive and reserve fill-in Kevin Peterson suffered a concussion early in the game. Murphy's best position is slot cornerback but he has also shown the ability to play outside, and could be used in either spot depending on the status of Kirkpatrick.

The Cardinals lost outside linebacker Chandler Jones (biceps) for the year in mid-October, but if Kirkpatrick and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (hamstring) can play Sunday, the defense would be pretty healthy overall.

Kirkpatrick, Murphy and Kennard practiced on Wednesday -- Kirkpatrick in a limited capacity -- but Phillips did not.

"It'll be nice this week to get those bodies back and feel more healthy with that unit, and have some experienced players out there," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "We're all excited to see how we play on Sunday with that group."

The Cardinals' defense has a tough test, as Bills quarterback Josh Allen has made major strides as a passer this season and Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley is a talented receiver trio. The Cardinals are allowing 22.5 points per game this season, eighth-best in the NFL.

"It's going to be a big challenge for us, but this defense, as long as we take it day-by-day and week-by-week, we feel like we'll be good," safety Budda Baker said.

KENYAN DRAKE RECOVERING QUICKLY; ENO BENJAMIN WAITING HIS TURN

Running back Kenyan Drake (ankle) practiced in a limited capacity n on Wednesday, and it seems he could be back much quicker than originally thought. Drake was carted off against the Seahawks and had a towel draped over his head, but has only missed one game.

While the Cardinals averaged 4.8 yards per carry against the Dolphins, quarterback Kyler Murray did the heavy lifting with 106 yards on 11 rushing attempts, as the running backs averaged only 2.8 yards per tote.

Even though Drake did not play on Sunday, rookie seventh-round pick Eno Benjamin was still inactive, as he's been all year. D.J. Foster was elevated from the practice squad to back up Chase Edmonds, while undrafted rookie Jonathan Ward was the third running back.

Kingsbury said Benjamin, an Arizona State product, is having a tough time seeing the field because he's not as valuable on special teams as some of the other running backs.

"When you're in that third back slot, which is where he's at at this point, it's hard to be up if you're not participating in that phase," Kingsbury said. "He's a talented runner. I thought he had a really nice camp. We like his future here."

BAKER MISSES PRACTICE WITH GROIN INJURY

Six players didn't practice on Wednesday due to injury, including Baker, who was out with a groin issue. Phillips (hamstring), safety Deionte Thompson (knee), tight end Maxx Williams (ankle), defensive lineman Leki Fotu (ankle) and right guard Justin Murray (hand) also did not participate.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive tackle Corey Peters were given maintenance days.

For the Bills, Brown (knee), cornerback Tre'Davious White (ankle), guard Cody Ford (ankle), defensive end Jerry Hughes (foot), running back Taiwan Jones (hamstring), linebacker Del'Shawn Phillips (quadricep) and guard Brian Winters (knee) did not practice.

Those limited for Buffalo were guard Jon Feliciano (back), cornerback Josh Norman (hamstring) and quarterback Jake Fromm (not injury-related).

PUGH NAMED SALUTE TO SERVICE NOMINEE

Left guard Justin Pugh has been nominated for the 'Salute To Service Award presented by USAA.'

Pugh is a part of the Merging Vets and Players program, where he supports military members in their transition from the battlefield to civilian life. Pugh is an outspoken advocate for mental health and knows the transition can be a challenge for military members.

Finalists are scheduled to be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders during the Week 9 contest at State Farm Stadium.

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