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The Day After: Cardinals Set Plan As They Wait For Kingsbury Return

Team moves forward to Houston prep while working through Covid issues

Cardinals co-fill-in head coaches Vance Joseph (left) and Jeff Rodgers on the field during warmups before Sunday's game in Cleveland.
Cardinals co-fill-in head coaches Vance Joseph (left) and Jeff Rodgers on the field during warmups before Sunday's game in Cleveland.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury might be away from the team after testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday, but that doesn't mean he is not communicating with the team.

"Having Zoom has been great for us," defensive coordinator coach Vance Joseph said Monday, the day after the Cardinals beat the Browns. "It's like being in the same room. So, as far as the game plan, practice preparation stuff, and team meetings go– he can still do that stuff.

"As far as being at practice, hopefully, that happens soon."

Kingsbury is the first head coach this season to miss a game due to a positive test. According to protocols developed by the league and the NFL Players Association, Kingsbury cannot return until he has back-to-back negative tests 24 hours apart, or 10 days away.

Joseph, who split head coach duties Sunday with assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, acknowledged Kingsbury was thrilled to hear the Cardinals remain the NFL's only unbeaten team – though it was challenging to be away from his team. Sports Illustrated reported that Kingsbury didn't watch the game but monitored it by phone, instead using that time block to prepare the game plan for the Texans this week.

"He's bored right now; watching a lot of football," Joseph said. "But he's excited to get back."

It's been a stressful couple of days for the Cardinals. Linebacker Chandler Jones tested positive on Tuesday last week. Friday afternoon Kingsbury, quarterbacks coach Cam Turner, defensive lineman Zach Allen received positive tests, as did general manager Steve Keim.

The coaches called a meeting following the Kingsbury news Friday night to determine the most efficient way to call plays on offense, and Joseph said its ease spoke to the offensive staff and their constant preparedness.

"Obviously he's coached those guys on his side of the ball to see the game the same way," Joseph said. "It felt like (Kliff) was there on Sunday."

Then Sunday morning before kickoff at Cleveland, the team learned defensive lineman Corey Peters tested positive.

It's why Joseph called the 37-14 victory against the Browns – when the offense scored 30-plus points in a game for the fifth time this season, and the defense allowed fewer than 20 points for the fifth time this year – the most gratifying victory this season.

"I would say yes," Joseph said. "It was a troubled week with all the positive tests starting on Tuesday. But our team leaders and coaches all responded in the right way."

Since the Cardinals are dealing with multiple positive tests, the organization is now operating under intensive protocols, which require more frequent testing.

"Once you get four or five (positive) tests in a week, they make everyone on Tier One and Two tests daily," Joseph said. "Until you get through a four- or five-day period. It's been more stressful, but hopefully, after week, things will return to normal protocols."