Zaven Collins got his chance to play defense. And he did well.
The rookie linebacker, who hadn't had defensive snaps in a month, ended up playing 19 against the Cowboys, both at inside and outside.
"He played well," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "It was good all week for him. He needs to play more. With Junk (Markus Golden) down and DK (Devon Kennard) down, it was perfect timing for him."
Pro Football Focus agreed, giving Collins a good 74.0 grade. (PFF has actually liked Collins on defense all season, with an overall 69.2 mark on 212 defensive snaps.) Collins played 15 snaps outside, four inside.
With Golden and Kennard sidelined with Covid, Joseph turned to a mix at OLB. Chandler Jones had 56 snaps. Rookie Victor Dimukeje, with a body type closer to Golden, had the second-most at 29, with Dennis Gardeck at 25. Tanner Vallejo also came back to play 10 snaps.
While the normal group of Isaiah Simmons, Jordan Hicks, Byron Murphy, Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker all played at least 63 of 64 snaps, the cornerbacks broke down to Kevin Peterson with 59 snaps and Antonio Hamilton at 39. The defensive line shook out with Zach Allen at 42, Corey Peters (who I thought was excellent, especially against the run) had 31, Leki Fotu was at 27 and Rashard Lawrence at 22.
Jones had the highest defensive grade at 78.5 and Baker was next at 77.5, so the Cardinals' stars played like stars. Gardeck (69.4), Hamilton (65.7), Thompson (64.1) and Simmons (64.1) all graded well.
Offensively, the Cardinals upped by one the number of players with at least 10 snaps -- it was 12 against the Colts, 13 this week. Running back Chase Edmonds, beat up as he was, got in 61 of 76 plays. Eno Benjamin, who was only playing late because Edmonds was hurting, got in nine snaps, with special-teams hero Jonathan Ward getting eight offensive snaps.
The wide receiver breakdown was Christian Kirk 68, A.J. Green 61, Antoine Wesley 43, Greg Dortch 17 and Andy Isabella 4. Zach Ertz got in 69 offensive snaps, and with Demetrius Harris out, Darrell Daniels got 32, the most work he's had since Week 9 against the 49ers at home.
Wesley, with his two TD catches, was the highest-graded player on offense at 71.6, with QB Kyler Murray next at 69.9. The rest of the top graded players on the unit were Green (67.6), left tackle Kelvin Beachum (67.0), Dortch (66.1), left guard Justin Pugh (65.4), Kirk (64.9) and center Rodney Hudson (63.1).