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Players In The Spotlight: Carolina Week

Against the Panthers, QBs, Conner, Fotu, Golden and Wesley ones to watch

Players To Watch Carolina

The Cardinals enter Week 10 with the best record in the NFL, looking to secure a 9-1 start when they host the Panthers Sunday at State Farm Stadium. The Cardinals are the favorites, but the Panthers have won five straight between the teams.

Ahead of the matchup, here are five Cardinals to watch for in this week's spotlight.

The unknown starting quarterback

Kyler Murray is uncertain to return Sunday after missing last week's victory in San Francisco with an injured ankle. If Murray does play, eyes will center on how healthy the MVP candidate looks against the second-best defense in the NFL. If the coaches hold Murray out for another week, veteran Colt McCoy will make his second-straight start after registering an impressive 119.4 passer rating last week.

Milestone watch: With 31 passing yards, Murray would become the fourth-youngest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 career passing yards.

With a passer rating of 120.0+, Murray would have the franchise record (Kurt Warner had five in 2009) for the most in a single season.

James Conner

After Chase Edmonds injured his ankle on the Cardinals' first offensive possession last week, Conner stepped in and showed out with an ideal performance. On 21 carries, Conner finished with a season-high 96 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. With Edmonds likely sidelined for several weeks, the run game will continue to rely heavily on Conner. Carolina is allowing 111.7 rushing yards on the ground.

Milestone watch: Milestone watch: With a rushing touchdown, Conner would have 11 rushing TDs in 2021. Only three players in franchise history would have more rushing TDs in a season: David Johnson (16 in 2016), John David Crow (14 in 1962), and Ernie Nevers (12 in 1929).

With two rushing touchdowns, Conner (5) would join David Johnson (5 in 2016) as the only players in franchise history with five games of multiple rushing TDs in a single season. It would also give him 12 rushing TDs in 2021, tied for the third highest single season total in franchise history.

Leki Fotu

Fotu received 28 snaps last week and factored in the Cardinals' ability to limit the 49ers' run game to a meaningless 39 yards on 11 carries, the fewest the Cardinals' defense has allowed all season. The same energy will be needed Sunday to limit Christian McCaffery, who appears healthy again.

Markus Golden

Golden continues to be a revelation for the defense, fresh off a three-sack performance last week in San Francisco. Since the Panthers rank top-10 in sacks allowed, Golden will have more opportunity to increase his sack total. Golden leads the team in sacks (9) and only Cleveland's Myles Garrett (12) and Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt (11.5) have more sacks through nine games.

Milestone watch: With a sack, Golden would have 10.0 sacks in 2021. It would mark the third time in his career and the second time with the Cardinals; Golden has piled up double-digit sacks in a season (12.5 w/ AZ in 2016; 10.0 w/ NYG in 2019).

Antoine Wesley

In the victory over San Francisco, Wesley contributed to the passing offense, catching all three of his targets for 62 yards, averaging 20.7 yards per catch. With DeAndre Hopkins dealing with a bad hamstring and A.J. Green in Covid protocols, the Cardinals might need Wesley to have similar production against the second ranked defense in the NFL. The Panthers' pass defense is giving 181.4 yards per game; only Buffalo allows fewer yards through the air.

Images of the top players to watch Sunday versus Carolina: Who plays QB, RB James Conner, DT Leki Fotu, LB Markus Golden and WR Antoine Wesley.

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