Sun, 29 Nov 2020

With Chandler Jones Out, Offense May Bear More Burden

Arizona Cardinals
18 Oct 2020, 18:03 GMT+10

Notes: Humphries, Kennard questionable for Monday; Fitts won't play Darren Urban

The Cardinals are attempting to find a defensive plan that can account for the loss of top pass rusher Chandler Jones.

One of the more obvious ways for the team to help, however, comes on the other side of the ball.

"That's something that obviously ran through my head when (the injury) happened," wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. "We've got to go out and score."

Coming in to 2020, for all the improvements the defense made with personnel, the Cardinals still were a team built to go as far as their offense would take them. That would only seem to intensify now, with Jones out and the Cardinals playing high-scoring offenses in the Cowboys and Seahawks the next two games.

Dallas is averaging 32.6 points a game, and while it is without starting quarterback Dak Prescott after his horrific ankle injury, backup Andy Dalton has shown he can be productive, especially with the Cowboys' receiving weapons and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Of course, the Cowboys are allowing 36 points a game on defense, an opening that dovetails nicely with a Cardinals' offense that seemed to find itself in a better place after last week's 30-point game in New York.

"It really falls on all of us," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Every player on this team. You've got to step your game up offensively, score more points, special teams-wise get better field position, and defensively we got to find a way to generate pressure."

The latter of which is still yet to be seen. Devon Kennard should play this week despite dealing with a calf issue, although a bad hamstring will keep reserve Kylie Fitts out of the game. Haason Reddick is expected to start in place of Jones.

"We're not expecting anyone to come in and lead the league in sacks," defensive lineman Corey Peters said, "but we are expecting guys to pick it up, and that includes the offense."

The Cardinals are averaging 25.6 points a game. Quarterback Kyler Murray is coming off a career-best 380 yards passing. Yet Kingsbury wants more - "You want to coach to perfection," he said - including much more cleanup of some avoidable penalties.

Besides, the Cards will need more on that side of the ball.

"Chandler being out, it's not something said throughout the locker room, but offense has to step it up because he does play a pivotal role on this team," Hopkins said. "If we go out and score points, hopefully we can outscore those guys and I'm sure the defense will do their part."

HUMPHRIES ADDED TO INJURY REPORT; FITTS OUT

Starting left tackle D.J. Humphries was added to the injury report Saturday with a back issue, a second potential blow for an offensive line that had starting right guard J.R. Sweezy end up on IR with his elbow injury.

Humphries is officially questionable, as are outside linebackers Kennard (calf) and Dennis Gardeck (foot). With Fitts (hamstring) out for the game, the Cardinals are dangerously thin, and the potential is there to promote Reggie Walker from the practice squad Monday.

Defensive lineman Jordan Phillips was absent at practice to attend his father's funeral.

Kingsbury also said safety Jalen Thompson, who can come off IR at any time, will test his ankle pregame and could potentially play Monday.

The Cowboys are officially healthy for the game.

COPING WITHOUT DAK

The Cardinals were damaged last weekend when Jones suffered his season-ending biceps injury, but the Cowboys had their own harsh blow with the emotional loss of Prescott with his graphic ankle injury.

The Cowboys not only needed to get used to a new quarterback this week, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said, but also get past the gut punch of losing Prescott how they did.

"I've never seen a response during a football game on both sidelines, everybody involved, and then obviously after the game, on a personal level, the number of people that reached out that don't even know Dak Prescott," McCarthy said. "He has made such an impact on the NFL community and on the Dallas community in such a short time. So, it was definitely something I recognized, to see people come off the sidelines to him. I think we're fortunate to have an extra day of preparation this week going into the game because it's given us a chance to work through some of those emotions."

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