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The Rodney Hudson Factor, And Friday Before The Seahawks

There was a play early in the game in Dallas when his fellow offensive lineman Josh Jones was flagged for a false start, and center Rodney Hudson shot him a glare.

I don't know if anything was said – I saw this through binoculars on the far end of the field – but I'm not sure anything needed to be. Earlier this season, D.J. Humphries had noted that he was just going to block the end unless Hudson told him different. That is the sway – all earned – that Hudson holds.

You see how the Cardinals play when Hudson – who has missed five games, three with a ribs injury and two with Covid – and when he does not. It's not hard to notice, and there's a reason why some are willing to argue that he might even be the team's MVP.

Hudson, a man of even temperament and few words in front of the microphone, isn't going there.

"I just try to show up and do the best I can," Hudson said. "I try to be accountable, to be a good teammate, and be there to help on Sundays. I don't try to be team MVP, so to speak. I just try to show up and do my job."

He does it well. In the MVP conversation, I'd probably lean toward Kyler Murray – the quarterback makes the team go, and on most winning teams, the QB is the MVP, or James Conner, who has been a difference-maker this season. But there was a reason the Cardinals went after Hudson in the offseason, and it makes a difference.

The Cardinals will finally have the entire offensive line back together Sunday: From left tackle to right, Humphries, Justin Pugh, Hudson, Max Garcia and Kelvin Beachum. That lineup hasn't started together since the Week 9 win in San Francisco. Given that Garcia eventually beat out Josh Jones as starting right guard, this will only be the second time all season this lineup has played together.

That is what you want heading into the playoffs.

Quarterback Kyler Murray has said multiple times how Hudson helps him on the field. Hudson – again, downplaying himself – said it simply starts with his daily video work and preparation.

"I know what to look for, and to trust what I see on Sundays," Hudson said.

Hudson has been a huge reason the Cardinals made their jump this season. They need him on the field. At this point, that's impossible to argue.

-- I'm not sure what to expect Sunday. The Seahawks aren't playing for the postseason. But Russell Wilson is the type of guy who will push for a win anyway. And yes, it's hard to tell what the Cardinals will look like in a home game. My guess? If the Cardinals can get a lead early, they'll be in good shape, even with some of the missing pieces.

-- J.J. Watt's comeback seems inevitable at this point, right? But is it? He hasn't been on the practice field since Oct. 22. Would one week of practice next week be enough to use him in the first round of the playoffs, or will it take (at least) one postseason win? Regardless, the fact this is even a consideration is crazy. Watt truly is that guy.

-- I don't know if James Conner will play. I think he wants to, and I think they'd want him out there with Chase Edmonds out. But will I be surprised if it's the Jonathan Ward/Eno Benjamin show? No, I wouldn't be.

-- If Markus Golden, who missed last week, can sack Russell Wilson twice, it'd be worth a $1 million incentive. That's the definition of incentive.

-- Speaking of sacks, Chandler Jones sacked Wilson twice in Seattle and has 16½ sacks of Wilson in 11 career games. So for both he and Golden, in Golden's terms, they will be huntin'.

-- Adam Schefter tweeted this week that Clemson had made a run at Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner – Buckner turned it down – and now Auburn was doing the same. Buck has done another great job with the defensive line, especially when his top two guys – Watt and Jordan Phillips – have missed so much time.

-- No player on offense this season will have started every game. Heck, no offensive player has started 16 games to this point.

-- Here's one that was unexpected at season's beginning: The one Cardinal with a legitimate chance at 1,000 yards is Christian Kirk. He needs 61 yards to reach that plateau for the first time in his career.

"That's definitely a big accomplishment," Kirk said. "Something as a receiver you always have a goal of doing. But I'm going to play my game and take every opportunity that comes my way. It's a good feat. I think I've surpassed a lot of expectations this year and I just want to keep riding that and end on a high note."

It shouldn't be lost that Kirk, having his best season, is scheduled to become a free agent.

-- Wide receiver A.J. Green needs one catch to reach 700 in his career. And tight end Zach Ertz needs one catch to become only the third tight end in Cardinals history to have 50 catches in a season.

-- Ertz needs eight receptions to set the franchise record for tight end catches in a season with 57 – and he will have done it in just 11 games in Arizona.

-- Speaking of milestones, props to Dave Pasch, voice of the Cardinals, for wrapping up his 20th season. I remember when he started, he had hair.

-- Kliff Kingsbury is trying to join Bruce Arians as the only coaches in franchise history with 12 wins in a season.

-- The playoff schedule will come out sometime during the Raiders-Chargers "Sunday Night Football" game. At that point, we will know what the Cards did, what the Rams did against the 49ers, and whether the Cardinals a) won the NFC West and b) get a first-round home game.

Kind of a big deal.

See you Sunday.

C Rodney Hudson gets to the second level to block for RB Chase Edmonds during a 2021 road game in Dallas
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