The Cardinals have injuries on the offensive line, significant ones, enough so that it wouldn't be surprising for a nine-year veteran who was a full-time starter for the past five years to make an immediate contribution.
Not that it would take that, figures Joe Barksdale.
"I feel like I can step in anywhere," the newest Cardinal said, after signing this week following his Monday release from the Los Angeles Chargers. "It's not just here but anywhere. Injuries or not, I'm a great player. So I don't think the injuries help me to think that (I can play now) more than my ability does."
With D.J. Humphries and Mike Iupati both going on injured reserve this week, the turnover of the line is complete. At the outset of the week, coach Steve Wilks talked about last week's finishing line in Green Bay – rookie Korey Cunningham and Will Holden at the tackles, rookie Colby Gossett and Oday Aboushi at the guards, with rookie Mason Cole at center – but that has a chance to change. Barksdale might be a reason why.
Friday morning, General Manager Steve Keim praised Barksdale, a right tackle who started 71 games between 2013-2017, on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station. "There's no doubt we have to continue to provide depth at that (tackle) position," Keim said. "The pickup of Joe Barksdale the other day gives me a little hope. … He's played a lot of football and I'm excited to see him out there, because he has played a lot of right tackle during his career and has done well."
Then Wilks was similarly complimentary Friday of Barksdale's three days of practice.
"He looked great, to be honest," Wilks said. "Understanding the system, coming from the Chargers, he knows the terminology, I think he'll be fine."
Wilks declined to name his starting tackles, only offering that Cunningham, Holden and Barksdale were the rotation.
Barksdale started all 11 games he played with the Chargers in 2017, but this season, started only once in six games. After being excused from Sunday night's Chargers game against the Steelers for "personal" reasons, Barksdale said his release was a mutual decision.
"It was an amicable thing," he said. "I'm ready to come here and make plays."
If he were to slide into the lineup, he will be the most experienced of the bunch.
"I see myself as a rookie with eight years experience," Barksdale said. "At the end of the day, you never stop learning."
BAKER'S AVAILABILITY UP IN THE AIR; LIONS MISSING TOP RUNNING BACK
Linebacker Deone Bucannon (chest) will miss a third straight game, and safety Budda Baker (knee) will be a game-day decision for the Cardinals on an injury list that shrunk significantly because of the many injured reserve moves earlier in the week.
For the Lions, linebacker Trevor Bates (ankle) and running back Kerryon Johnson (knee) are out. Eight players are questionable: fullback Nick Bellore (ankle), wide receiver Bruce Ellington (back), defensive end Kerry Hyder (illness), linebacker Devon Kennard (hip), wide receiver Brandon Powell (calf), cornerback Darius Slay (ankle), quarterback Matthew Stafford (back), and tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder).
PUNT RETURNER WITH KIRK OUT
With Christian Kirk out for the season, the Cardinals need to turn elsewhere for a new punt returner. J.J. Nelson figures to get the nod, although T.J. Logan also has done it in practice, Wilks noted.
Logan has yet to return a punt in a game. Nelson had four punt returns for 11 yards as a rookie in 2015. Kirk this season averaged 8.3 yards on 18 returns, with a long of 44 and 17 fair catches.
"Those guys get reps every day," Wilks said. "The most important thing is we have to protect the ball and give it back to the offense. Make sure we do a great job fielding the football."
Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Detroit Lions