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Another Cardinals lineman down as Hernandez expected to miss more time

Howard Balzer Avatar
November 8, 2022

Another game, another lineman down, which has been the overriding story of the Cardinals 2022 season.

The latest was right guard Will Hernandez, who lasted nine snaps (14 percent) Sunday against Seattle and was replaced by rookie Lecitus Smith.

Perhaps many of you might be weary of reading about it, but the reality is that constant shuffling and personnel changes on the line makes it nearly impossible to achieve a level of consistency to compete in the NFL.

Look no further than the Rams who started their fifth right guard of the season Sunday against Tampa Bay and managed 206 total yards (137 without a 69-yard touchdown by Cooper Kupp) and had eight three-and-outs. It was the seventh different line combination in eight games for the defending Super Bowl champs, who will host the Rams next Sunday.

With coach Kliff Kingsbury essentially ruling Hernandez out for Sunday’s game against the Rams, the Cardinals will enter it with their sixth different line combination of the season.

Kingsbury acknowledged the difficulty of game-planning, while being cognizant of the moving pieces there have been on the line almost on a weekly basis.

He said, “It’s been unfortunate that we’ve had so many injuries this year on that inside piece. Particularly, with guys coming in that weren’t with us in camp, guys that we signed either off different practice squads or traded for, trying to pick it up mid-season similar to Robbie (Anderson) and then go out there and execute at a high level. I think they’ve battled so far and held up well enough to have us in games. We’ve just got to clean it up and execute at a higher level consistently throughout the game.”

The latter is more a wish than a plan because lines have to operate as a unit to have any hope of being consistent, especially in critical situations.

Of course, that won’t stop the calls for Kingsbury to be fired, as if he can wave a magic wand to create a competent and stable group to run block and protect quarterback Kyler Murray.

After Sunday’s game, this is an update of the snap counts and percentages for the line in the 658 snaps this season: Kelvin Beachum, 650/98.8%; Hernandez, 578/87.8; D.J. Humphries, 575/87.4; Rodney Hudson, 303/46.1; Justin Pugh, 263/40.0; Sean Harlow, 223/33.9; Billy Price, 207/31.5; Cody Ford, 194/29.5; Max Garcia, 144/21.9; Josh Jones, 93/14.1; Smith, 62/9.4.

If Garcia is able to return from a shoulder injury that had him inactive for the last two games, he’s a possibility to be the right guard against the Rams.

At center, Kingsbury said he expects Price to continue being the starter, but also added, “We’ll see how practice goes this week. Sean has played for us as well at that position and we’ll kind of see where it goes throughout the week.”

Snap shots

Wide receiver Robbie Anderson’s true debut didn’t go well. After playing 19 snaps in two games, Anderson played 52 (83%) against Seattle but had one reception in three targets for minus-4 yards, dropped one pass and also had one of the team’s five false starts. Meanwhile, A.J. Green played one snap and Greg Dortch five. … Running back James Conner was back after missing three games because of injured ribs and played 45 snaps (71%). Eno Benjamin played only 17 (27%). Conner rushed seven times for 45 yards and caught five passes for 19 yards.

Cornerback Trayvon Mullen Jr. played two snaps on defense as did defensive lineman Manny Jones in his NFL debut. … Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, signed to the roster last week, did not play on defense, but participated in 12 (44%) special-teams snaps.

Charting the snaps (snaps/percentage; starters in bold)

*Indicates player that did not play from scrimmage, but participated on special teams

OFFENSE (63 snaps, 19 players)

Quarterbacks: Kyler Murray (63/100)

Did not play: Colt McCoy. Inactive: Trace McSorley

Running backs: James Conner (45/71), Eno Benjamin (17/27),Keaontay Ingram (1/2)

Reserve/injured: Jonathan Ward (eligible to return), Darrel Williams (eligible to return)

Wide receivers: DeAndre Hopkins (59/94), Rondale Moore (57/90), Robbie Anderson (52/83), Greg Dortch (5/8), A.J. Green (1/2)

Reserve/injured: Marquise Brown (eligible to return), Antoine Wesley

Tight ends: Zach Ertz (61/97), Trey McBride (13/21), Stephen Anderson (3/5)

Offensive linemen: LT D.J. Humphries (63/100, LG Cody Ford (63/100), C Billy Price (63/100), RG Will Hernandez (9/14), RT Kelvin Beachum (63/100), G Lecitus Smith (54/86), T Josh Jones (1/2)

Did not play: C *Sean Harlow. Inactive: C Rodney Hudson (injured), G Max Garcia (injured). Reserve/injured: LG Justin Pugh (eligible to return), T Josh Miles, G Marquis Hayes

DEFENSE (73 snaps, 22 players)

Defensive linemen: DE Zach Allen (56/77), DE J.J. Watt (56/77), DT Leki Fotu (37/51), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (24/33), DE Michael Dogbe (14/19), Manny Jones (2/3)

Inactive: Trysten Hill. Reserve/injured: NT Rashard Lawrence (eligible to return)

Linebackers: ILB Zaven Collins (71/97), ILB Isaiah Simmons (59/81), OLB Markus Golden (48/66), ILB Ben Niemann (34/47), ILB Tanner Vallejo (27/37), OLB Victor Dimukeje (25/34), OLB Myjai Sanders (21/29), OLB Cameron Thomas (17/23), OLB Jesse Luketa (10/14), ILB Ezekiel Turner (3/4)

Did not play: *ILB Kamu Grugier-Hill. Inactive: OLB Dennis Gardeck (injured). Reserve/injured ILB Nick Vigil (eligible to return)

Defensive backs: CB Byron Murphy Jr. (73/100), S Budda Baker (72/99), S Jalen Thompson (72/99), CB Marco Wilson (61/84), CB Antonio Hamilton (19/26), CB Trayvon Mullen Jr. (2/3)

Did not play: S *Chris Banjo. Inactive: CB Christian Matthew (injured)

Reserve/injured: S Charles Washington (eligible to return)

SPECIAL TEAMS (27 snaps, 31 players)

LB Tanner Vallejo (24/89), LB Ezekiel Turner (23/85), S Chris Banjo (23/85), CB Antonio Hamilton (23/85), TE Stephen Anderson (21/78), TE Trey McBride (19/70), LB Victor Dimukeje (19/70), WR/RS Greg Dortch (15/56), LB Ben Niemann (13/48), LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (12/44), P Andy Lee (9/33), LS Aaron Brewer (9/33), DT Leki Fotu (9/33), RB Keaontay Ingram (8/30), LB Jesse Luketa (8/30), K Matt Prater (7/26), CB Marco Wilson (7/26), CB Trayvon Mullen Jr. (7/26), DE Zach Allen (6/22), DL Manny Jones (5/19), LB Zaven Collins (5/19), LB Cameron Thomas (4/15), T Kelvin Beachum (3/11), G Cody Ford (3/11), T Josh Jones (3/11), C Sean Harlow (3/11), G Lecitus Smith (3/11), RB Eno Benjamin (2/7), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (1/4), S Budda Baker (1/4), CB Byron Murphy Jr. (1/4)

Inactive: P Nolan Cooney

Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions on Twitter @hbalzer721 or email me: howard@gophnx.com

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