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Of Snap Counts And Grades: Falcons Game

Cornerback Christian Matthew steps up with injuries slicing secondary

There was only one Cardinals defender who played all 62 defensive snaps Sunday in Atlanta: cornerback Christian Matthew. It was out of necessity with Antonio Hamilton and Marco Wilson both out with injuries, but the rookie made it worthwhile, pulling down the team's highest Pro Football Focus grade of the week at 84.0.

Matthew, a seventh-round pick, has the size and smarts to become good. If he can trend up going into 2023, that would be a nice and likely unexpected find at the position -- a position that will have to looked at carefully in the offseason, with both Hamilton and Byron Murphy scheduled to become free agents.

Matthew wouldn't have been the only defender to play every snap if it hadn't been for injuries -- safety Jalen Thompson (61), safety Isaiah Simmons (59) and linebacker Zaven Collins (59) all would have been 100 percenters if all three hadn't had to leave briefly after getting dinged during the game. Cornerback Jace Whittaker also played 59 snaps.

J.J. Watt continued to be a defensive line workhorse with 56 snaps, while the year-long watch on the rookie linebackers continued, with Myjai Sanders playing 26 snaps and Cameron Thomas 23.

Grade-wise, linebacker Markus Golden was second to Matthew (75.1), followed by linebackers Ben Niemann (70.0) and Dennis Gardeck (67.6) and then safety Chris Banjo (65.5) in a limited role.

On offense, the big game by tight end Trey McBride translated, both with his snaps (71 out of 74 possible) and his grade (73.3, tied with right tackle Kelvin Beachum as the best on offense.) With Stephen Anderson coming down with an illness pre-game, Maxx Williams had 25 snaps and offensive lineman Sean Harlow was used a couple of times as a third tight end.

With James Conner suffering a shin injury, his snap count dropped to 41, with Corey Clement picking up the slack (32 snaps). Rookie Keaontay Ingram had only one offensive snap. At receiver, Hollywood Brown led the way with 67, followed by Greg Dortch (60), Andre Baccellia (35), Robbie Anderson (17 after leaving with a back injury), and A.J. Green (12).

Left tackle Josh Jones again was graded well (73.2), as was Conner (72.8), Green (69,3) quarterback David Blough (67.2), Anderson (65.6) and Williams (62.9).

CB Christian Matthew breaks up a pass against the Falcons.
CB Christian Matthew breaks up a pass against the Falcons.
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