The offensive line was inevitably going to be a storyline for the Cardinals this season, regardless of who played and what happened, but Kliff Kingsbury probably would've preferred to be able to hold off until at least after the season opener.
Instead, starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert got "banged up" at Thursday's practice with his knee, the coach acknowledged, and later Friday the veteran was listed as out for Sunday's game against the Lions.
Kingsbury had no details about the injury, but said he had no concerns about his offensive line depth in case Gilbert wasn't going to play. He noted that the Cardinals liked Justin Murray and Brett Toth, the two tackles the team acquired via waivers and that they had done well in picking up the offense.
"If Marcus isn't able to go, we'll shuffle some bodies around but we feel good with where we are at there," Kingsbury said.
Toth, a rookie, is listed on the depth chart as Gilbert's backup. Murray has the ability to play both tackle spots and guard, but said his natural position is right tackle – that's where he played at the University of Cincinnati. Rookie Joshua Miles is the other tackle on the roster, but he has played mostly on the left side in camp.
"It's been crazy," said Murray, who is playing for his sixth team since entering the league in 2016. "I'm used to dropping everything, moving, getting into a new system and trying to learn a new playbook. That's been my main focus."
Rookie guard/center Lamont Gaillard (knee) was also ruled out. Linebackers Haason Reddick (knee) and Ezekiel Turner (hand) are officially questionable. For the Lions, linebacker Jarrad Davis (ankle), defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand (elbow), cornerback Rashaan Melvin (knee) and offensive lineman Frank Ragnow (ankle) are all questionable.
FORMER LION WASHINGTON SET TO SEE THE TEAMMATES HE HAD A WEEK AGO
The Cardinals could have used a special-teams ace, so they claimed safety Charles Washington off waivers last weekend. It just so happened that Washington had been cut by the Lions, and now he has a chance to play against his former team immediately – not that he is dwelling on it.
"I approach every week the same, same mentality," Washington said. "I don't want to get wrapped up in the whole thing, then I lose focus if I'm thinking, 'Oh, I got released by them.' "
Washington said he had predicted when talking with his former teammates that he could very well end up in Arizona as a waiver claim once it came out that the Cards originally cut their roster to 51 players, two below the limit. He turned out to be right, not surprisingly after the Cards traded Rudy Ford and lost Brandon Williams to a shoulder injury – two players that played major special teams roles a year ago.
He said a couple of former teammates, such as wide receiver Marvin Jones, have reached out to him to ask how his adjustment is going.
"A lot of those guys were like big brothers to me," Washington said. "But ball is ball, and they know everything is out the window between those white lines until the game is over."
JOSEPH HAPPY CARDINALS COULD FINALLY GET MCDONALD
Veteran free-agent defensive lineman Clinton McDonald "was a guy we chased all spring," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said, so the ability to recently get McDonald under contract will be helpful to the Cardinals.
"He is a perfect fit for our defense," Joseph said.
McDonald figures to be a part of the rotation behind starters Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter and Zach Allen. How many defensive linemen the Cards use Sunday is to be determined – they just claimed Jonathan Bullard, and also have rookies Michael Dogbe and Miles Brown.
McDonald helps in the locker room with his leadership skills as well. He said getting acclimated to the Cardinals is as much about learning how to play with new teammates as much as learning the playbook. Having not been through training camp is also a factor.
"The only thing that can get you in condition for football is football," McDonald said. "You have to make it hard for yourself in practice so when you get to the game, it's second nature."