NFL-best Cardinals continue to evolve, prepare for Panthers
GLENDALE (AZ) — Vance Joseph believes it’s amazing that the Arizona Cardinals have an eight-one record, which is the best in the NFL.
The defensive coordinator knows that it doesn’t really mean anything as the calendar shifts to November and December.
“The best teams in this league during the second half year don’t stay unchanged,” Joseph stated. They adapt before they have to. Is that not logical? Because good teams know that it will get more difficult every week. .”
Teams have two months’ worth of film This film will prove that the Cardinals have been a top-tier team in nine games, on offense and defense. They will try to maintain those same trends against the Carolina Panthers (4-5).
The Cardinals are still winning despite the injuries to key players, especially on offense. Quarterback Kyler Murray (ankle) and receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) missed last week’s game against the 49ers, which Arizona still won 31-17.
These two players have not practiced this week, putting into question their status against Panthers. If Murray can’t play, veteran backup Colt McCoy showed he can handle the offense, completing 22 of 26 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown in his first start of the season. The Panthers are desperate to remain in the playoff race after dropping five of six games. Carolina signed veteran quarterback Cam Newton to an one-year contract on Thursday. However, it is not clear if the 2015 Most Valuable player will be available to help by Sunday.
Second-year quarterback P.J. Walker will likely be able to lead the Panthers with Sam Darnold still out for at least four weeks due to a shoulder injury.
It might be Walker’s only opportunity to make a good impression: The Panthers probably aren’t paying Newton up to $10 million to sit on the sideline.
Walker started last season as a fill in starter, throwing two interceptions in red zone.
Walker was a player for Panthers coach Matt Rhule in Temple. He signed with the Panthers following a successful stint as the league’s top-ranked player during the coronavirus pandemic.
” Walker stated that he will just go back to the XFL days. I had a lot fun and enjoyed the moment. Although I am excited, I also want to be excited when I go out on Sunday. The guys around me require that energy and that juice. I want to make sure that I bring that juice. This is the most important thing. I want to bring that juice He may need more than just juice. Walker inherits an offense which has only scored one touchdown in its last 36 possessions.
Linebacker Markus Golden has emerged as arguably the best player on the Cardinals defense and his blue-collar personality is widely respected by teammates.
The 30-year-old veteran — known by the nickname “Junk” — leads the team with nine sacks this season. He has helped keep the Cardinals’ pass rush consistent despite the loss of J.J. Watt (three-time NFL Defensive Player Of The Year), who is likely out for the season due to a shoulder injury.
Golden spent 5 1/2 of his seven NFL season with Arizona. While he signed with the New York Giants 2019,, the Cardinals wanted him back enough to trade for him in the middle 2020,.
McCAFFREY’S ROLE The Panthers wanted Christian McCaffrey to return to the game after he had missed five weeks due to a hamstring injury. McCaffrey played 49% in the team’s offensive plays. He usually plays 90% on the team’s offensive plays.
McCaffrey managed to get 106 yards in scrimmage, despite having a limited role. His snap count will increase over the coming weeks, starting Sunday.
The best offseason acquisition by the Cardinals might have been signing running back James Conner, who is tied for the NFL’s lead in rushing touchdowns with 10.
Conner, despite spending time in the backfield alongside Chase Edmonds, has consistently found the goal line. The 26-year-old has scored his 10 TDs despite running for a relatively modest 454 yards.
That could change against the Panthers. Edmonds (ankle), doesn’t appear to be playing Sunday. This means that Conner will likely take the majority of the carries. Some of the workload could also go to Eno Benjamin, who scored his first career touchdown last weekend against the 49ers on a spectacular 21-yard run.
NEW LOOK OFFENSIVE LIST The Panthers’ already poor offensive line was hit hard last Sunday when starting center Matt Paradis suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Left tackle Cam Erving was placed on short-term injured reserve due to a strained left calf.
The Panthers tried Taylor Moton, right tackle, at left tackle, earlier in the season. However they didn’t like the idea that he would be moving to a weaker position by being moved to that side. Rhule will likely start Dennis Daley at left tackle, and Pat Elflein in the center. The Cardinals are likely to be under increasing pressure after Carolina surrendered 25sacks this season.
AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte, North Carolina, contributed.
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