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Who To Play On The Offensive Line, And Friday Before The Eagles

The Eagles have, arguably, the best defensive line in the league. They definitely have one that is deep, good enough that first-round mountain Jordan Davis rotates in off the bench, with Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham holding it down as they have for a decade.

It's probably not the best week to be playing will-he-or-won't-he on the offensive line. Yet here the Cardinals are. Center Rodney Hudson is doubtful, which almost always means out. The left side of the line, guard Justin Pugh and tackle D.J. Humphries, are each questionable. I'd guess both play – Pugh told me as much about himself, barring a setback the next day or so – but Pugh started last week too before getting dinged. This week, the Cardinals don't have Max Garcia to come in (he's out with a toe injury), so newcomer Billy Price might be the next man up.

So often the cliché is that the game is won up front, but for a Cardinals offense crippled with slow starts and no first-quarter points yet, it's the matchup to watch.

"(The Eagles) go as the D-line goes," Pugh said

-- Speaking of the defensive line, standing on the edge waiting to make a difference is former Cardinal Haason Reddick, who parlayed his one-year deal with the Panthers into a free-agent package with his home-area Eagles. Reddick is the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week with two sacks and two forced fumbles last week.

Kyler Murray noted he has yet to play against Reddick. Reddick strip-sacked Colt McCoy last year to jump-start the Panthers' upset win at State Farm Stadium.

"(Haason) is doing what he was meant to do in the league," Pugh said. "He was meant to be on the ball rushing the passer and you can see it. He's playing the best on the D-line. He pops the most on film."

-- J.J. Watt didn't have much to say in a brief interview session Friday, but when asked how he was feeling a week after his heart situation, he simply said "good."

-- Kliff Kingsbury said he didn't know until this week he is 6-0 in his coaching career against the NFC East, including a win over the Eagles in 2020.

"I did not," he said. "I hope that didn't jinx us, but we haven't won at home in a while so maybe that kind of cancels out."

-- Murray joked this week about how tight end Zach Ertz could get emotional when he didn't get the ball when he was open. He admitted Ertz was often open, so the veteran had a reason to have issue. Generally, though, Murray admitted his pass catchers don't say or do much. Not to him, anyway.

"They don't usually do it," Murray said. "They'll probably talk amongst each other and say I missed them or something like that. I go back and watch the film and I'm good about telling them if that was on me or if it's my fault. I try to make everybody feel good. You've got to keep them going, you've got to keep them upright and the confidence going because we're going to need everybody at some point."

-- The Eagles have built an offense around quarterback Jalen Hurts, who not only executes the run-pass option game well but also can run it plenty himself. Hurts already has 53 rushing attempts this season, a pace for 225 – which would crush Lamar Jackson's NFL record 176.

"It's assignment option football, so it forces you to be disciplined," Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said.

Safety Budda Baker said Hurts will often get on the move if his first read isn't there. If Hurts rolls left, Baker said, he's running. If he rolls right, he will scan the field a bit before taking off.

-- The Cardinals had two sacks in Carolina, and have four in four games, and are last in the league with less than three percent of dropbacks resulting in a sack. But they remain top three in the league in pass-rush win rate, and Joseph said the lack of sacks "doesn't bother me at all."

"Sack numbers don't concern me," he said. "One thing concerns me, and that's winning the football game."

-- Let's hope this is isn't the last time we see Maxx Williams, and it doesn't sound like we have.

-- The last time the Eagles won a game in Arizona was Nov. 4, 2001 – a 21-7 outcome that was overshadowed by the Diamondbacks winning the World Series that night. The next game in Arizona was an Eagles loss, in 2005 – the last Cardinals game at Sun Devil Stadium.

-- If Ertz makes a catch Sunday, he will have a reception against all 32 NFL teams.

-- A reminder the Cardinals are wearing their black alternate helmet for the first time in the regular season, to be paired with their black alternate uniform (white numbers and the white pants).

-- There will also be a handful of pink accessories I'm sure, with this being the Crucial Catch game to raise awareness for cancer research.

-- The Cardinals are also honoring the first female owner in NFL history, Violet Bidwill, in the 75th anniversary of her taking over the franchise, along with the 75th anniversary of the last Cardinals' championship – in 1947, when they beat the Eagles.

-- Kingsbury acknowledged that losing string-legged kicker Matt Prater might push him to go for it more often in certain situations, but that practice squad kicker Matt Ammendola – who will be elevated Sunday – has kicked well in practice.

-- The Cardinals have snapped the ball on offense only 13 times this season while holding a lead – and that includes three kneeldowns at the end of the Panthers game. That total is the lowest in the league. On the flip side, the Eagles have snapped the ball with the lead an NFL-best 180 times.

-- The last word goes to Kingsbury, on having DeAndre Hopkins back in the building with two more games left in his suspension.

"It's been good. He brings juice," Kingsbury said. "He's been chomping at the bit to get out there. I think he's really has a great appreciation from missing time last year and now these six games of watching from afar. I've got a feeling he's going to show up and be on edge, which is good for us. The timing will be really good, regardless of what our record is at that point."

See you Sunday.

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