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Are A.J. Green’s days in the desert numbered?
The question has to be asked after the veteran receiver was active but did not play any snaps in Thursday night’s game against New Orleans. Green also appeared disengaged, often being in the bench area away from the remainder of the offense.
When coach Kliff Kingsbury was asked about Green afterward, he said, “(After) acquiring Robbie (Anderson), we wanted to get him out there some and get Rondale (Moore) on the field. It just worked out that way.”
However, the reality is that Anderson played only 12 snaps (18 percent), while Moore’s 59 (89 percent) was actually lower than the previous three games when he played 86, 91 and 99 percent. Green had played 69 and 72 percent in the last two games after missing the Week 4 game because of a knee injury.
When asked about Green Monday, Kingsbury said, “We’re going to work through that. With all these pieces now, it’s gonna be a challenge for us to maximize who we have and see what we can get out of personnel groupings that we have. But we’ll see in the next eight or nine days going through it and see what we come up with.”
As for his lack of production (10 catches for 56 yards this season), Kingsbury said, “For whatever reason, the ball hasn’t come his way as much as I’m sure he would like. Sometimes that happens. But he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and he’ll continue to keep working.”
Of course, “whatever reason” is that he simply doesn’t get open.
The recipient of additional snaps Sunday was Greg Dortch, who had been a forgotten man after Moore returned after missing the first three games of the season. In those games, Dortch played 91, 71 and 81 percent, but the numbers dropped to 36, three and six in the next three. Against the Saints, he played 53 percent and scored a key touchdown on a 5-yard pass play that resulted in the Cardinals leading 35-17 in the third quarter.
One factor was that 49 of Moore’s 59 snaps came on the outside, opening up more playing time for Dortch in the slot. Also, Hopkins was moved around more than in the past when he was often limited to the left side of the formation.
While Kingsbury said how Hopkins and Moore will be deployed is “game plan to game plan,” he added, “We’re going to see how we can utilize Robbie as well and these other pieces we have and go from there, but we just gotta keep being creative in the ways we use all those weapons we have. I think that’s the main thing is to make sure we’re doing things that they do well.”
Meanwhile, on special teams, Dortch had a 31-yard kickoff return to the 36-yard line that jump-started an eight-play drive and provided the Cardinals with a 42-24 lead with 6:22 remaining in the game.
Meanwhile, the return of guard Cody Ford from reserve/injured was fortuitous. Ford had been sidelined because of an ankle injury since the beginning of the season and was designated for return on Tuesday. With Justin Pugh on reserve/injured and without any meaningful practice time this week, Ford was activated Thursday.
He was needed when Max Garcia suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter after playing only 13 snaps. Ford played the remainder of the game and had a key block that cleared the way for a 2-yard touchdown run by Keaontay Ingram that led to the game being tied at 14 late in the first half.
Kingsbury said, “We appreciate him pushing through. He’s rehabbed really hard and hadn’t really practiced full go, so to just hop out there, I thought he did a nice job. I think he’s another guy that with more reps (over) the next week or so, he’ll get better.”
Speaking of Ingram, after playing nine snaps (13 percent) in his rookie debut against Seattle, he played 20 snaps (30 percent).
Cornerback Antonio Hamilton, who played 22 and 28 percent of the snaps after returning in Week 5, was up to 49 percent Thursday and contributed six tackle (all solo), one interception and two passes defensed. The interception was the first of his career.
Nose tackle Rashard Lawrence suffered a shoulder injury on the first play of the Saints’ second possession of the game and played only four snaps. For his first two seasons, Lawrence was bedeviled by calf problems and then missed time earlier this season after undergoing hand surgery. Now this.
Kingsbury said Monday he doesn’t know the timetable yet, but added, “It’s unfortunate. He was playing at such a high level this season. Hopefully, it’s not too long-term type of a deal.”
Kicker Matt Prater missed his third game and it remains unknown if he will be ready for Minnesota in Week 8.
“I’m hoping over the next three or four days, he’ll feel a lot better going into the next week,” Kingsbury said. “But we’ll be smart with what we do and limit some of those kicks at times if we can.”
It was also unusual that all three quarterbacks were active for the game, although Colt McCoy and Trace McSorley didn’t play.
Trying to explain the reasoning, Kingsbury said, “Trace has just done a nice job in practice; really just getting him ready. The last couple years we haven’t made it through without some sort of injury going on. Then with Colt being out the last (several) weeks we wanted to make sure we had three that were ready to roll.”
However, the previous week when McCoy was activated from reserve/injured, he was active for the game against Seattle, but McSorley was inactive.
Charting the snaps (snaps/percentage; starters in bold)
*Indicates player that did not play from scrimmage, but participated on special teams
OFFENSE (66 snaps, 18 players)
Quarterbacks: Kyler Murray (66/100)
Did not play: Colt McCoy, Trace McSorley
Running backs: Eno Benjamin (48/73), Keaontay Ingram (20/30), Corey Clement (1/2)
Inactive: James Conner, Darrel Williams. Reserve/injured: Jonathan Ward (eligible to return)
Wide receivers: DeAndre Hopkins (61/92), Rondale Moore (59/89), Greg Dortch (35/53), Robbie Anderson (12/18)
Did not play: A.J. Green. Reserve/injured: Marquise Brown (eligible to return), Antoine Wesley (designated for return)
Tight ends: Zach Ertz (53/80), Trey McBride (34/52), Stephen Anderson (6/9)
Offensive linemen: C Billy Price (66/100), RG Will Hernandez (66/100), RT Kelvin Beachum (66/100), LT D.J. Humphries (62/94), LG Cody Ford (53/80), LG Max Garcia (13/20), T Josh Jones (5/8)
Did not play: C *Sean Harlow. Inactive: C Rodney Hudson (injured), C Lecitus Smith. Reserve/injured: G Justin Pugh (eligible to return), G Marquis Hayes
DEFENSE (72 snaps, 23 players)
Defensive linemen: DE Zach Allen (60/83), DE J.J. Watt (60/83), NT Rashard Lawrence (4/6)), DT Leki Fotu (28/39), DE Michael Dogbe (13/18), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (10/14)
Linebackers: ILB Zaven Collins (72/100), ILB Isaiah Simmons (54/75), OLB Markus Golden (53/74), OLB Victor Dimukeje (32/44), ILB Ben Niemann (24/33), OLB Cameron Thomas (24/33), ILB Tanner Vallejo (18/25), OLB Myjai Sanders (16/22), OLB Jesse Luketa (5/7), ILB Ezekiel Turner (1/1)
Inactive: OLB Dennis Gardeck (injured). Reserve/injured (eligible to return): ILB Nick Vigil
Defensive backs: CB Byron Murphy Jr. (72/100), S Budda Baker (72/100), S Jalen Thompson (72/100), CB Marco Wilson (56/78), CB Antonio Hamilton (35/49), S Chris Banjo (9/12), CB Christian Matthew (2/3)
Inactive: CB Trayvon Mullen Jr. (injured)
Reserve/injured: S Charles Washington (eligible to return)
SPECIAL TEAMS (32 snaps, 33 players)
LB Tanner Vallejo (27/84), S Chris Banjo (26/81), LB Ezekiel Turner (26/81), TE Stephen Anderson (25/78), TE Trey McBride (24/75), LB Victor Dimukeje (19/59), CB Antonio Hamilton (19/59), RB Corey Clement (16/50), LB Jesse Luketa (18/56), K Rodrigo Blankenship (13/41), WR/RS Greg Dortch (12/38), LB Ben Niemann (11/34), DT Leki Fotu (10/31), CB Christian Matthew (10/31), P Andy Lee (9/28), LS Aaron Brewer (9/28), LB Zaven Collins (9/28), CB Marco Wilson (9/28), DE Zach Allen (7/22), S Budda Baker (7/22), LB Cameron Thomas (6/19), T D.J. Humphries (5/16), T Kelvin Beachum (5/16), G Will Hernandez (5/16), C Sean Harlow (5/16), T Josh Jones (5/16), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (5/16), CB Byron Murphy Jr. (3/9), G Max Garcia (2/6), TE Zach Ertz (2/6), DE Michael Dogbe (1/3), NT Rashard Lawrence (1/3), LB Myjai Sanders (1/3)
Inactive: K Matt Prater (injured)
Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions on Twitter @hbalzer721 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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