Right tackle Brandon Keith had his season end Tuesday when he was placed on IR.
At some point in the first quarter Sunday, starting right tackle Brandon Keith tore his right hamstring.
Yet in the fourth quarter, there he was, sprinting out to make a lead block on a two-yard screen pass touchdown to wide receiver Early Doucet.
That's why the Cardinals were surprised when Keith's MRI showed the tear. The recovery time was four-to-six weeks – bumping up to the end of the season – and when further tests showed Keith also needed meniscus repair to a balky right knee, the team decided to put Keith on injured reserve ending his season.
"It's incredible he was able to play the whole game," coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
While veteran Jeremy Bridges is Keith's likely replacement, Whisenhunt said he won't make that decision yet. The Cardinals did sign veteran D'Anthony Batiste Tuesday, and Whisenhunt said he wants to see where Batiste might first fit.
Left tackle Levi Brown, who was the starting right tackle in each of his first three seasons, will remain on the left side, Whisenhunt said.
"What you don't want to do is make a two-position change," Whisenhunt said.
The Cards knew Keith hurt him hamstring during the game, but they thought it was minor, especially when he continued to play. The hamstring will heal on its own, Whisenhunt said. The knee was always going to need post-season surgery, but it was something Keith was going to be able to play through prior to the hamstring injury.
His knee surgery will be similar to the ones undergone by teammates Beanie Wells and Steve Breaston this season.
Keith, in his first full year as a starter, was uneven in his performances early. He seemed to have settled into his role.
"He's played like a young guy. It's been up and down but he seems to have been making strides lately working on his technique. I think he has been pretty consistent all year as a run blocker. When he uses his technique right, he's a very good pass protector.
"We were definitely encouraged by his play and we felt good about him going forward as our right tackle."
The Cards also protected themselves with their injured running backs, bringing back Alfonso Smith to the practice squad (and releasing wide receiver Ed Gant). Smith was with the team in training camp. With Beanie Wells (knee), Jason Wright (concussion) and LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring) all banged up, the Cards needed to make sure they had numbers this week, at least for practice.
Stephens-Howling will be monitored during the week, Whisenhunt said. Wright has yet to undergo any of his concussion tests. Wells will practice, Whisenhunt said. At best, Whisenhunt added, Stephens-Howling and Wright would be limited Wednesday at practice, forcing the need for Smith.
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