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Cardinals post-mortem: Rondale Moore's impact, Maxx Williams returns, Matt Ammendola's future?

Howard Balzer Avatar
October 11, 2022

For the second consecutive game, second-year receiver Rondale Moore played at least 86 percent of the snaps for the Cardinals.

Against Carolina, in his first game active after missing the first three games with a hamstring injury, Moore played 86 percent and was at 91 percent Sunday against the Eagles despite missing some work after suffering a knee injury in practice Thursday.

In his first six quarters, Moore didn’t do much. Against the Panthers, he had one rush for minus-4 yards and three receptions for 11 yards. In the first half Sunday, it was more of the same: two runs for minus-7 yards and four catches for 18 yards.

The second half was a different story. He had three receptions for 50 yards that included a 17-yard play on third-and-17 and then a 28-yarder in the fourth-quarter drive that tied the game at 17.

After the game, coach Kliff Kingsbury said it was a case of a lack of “time on task” for Moore to get in the flow of the offense.

“Rondale is coming off those injuries and hasn’t practiced a lot,” Kingsbury said. “You saw him get more comfortable in the second half and do what he can do: Being shifty and making plays. We’re going to need him to be that guy for us on offense and kind of be that piece that can get in open space and make those extra yards.”

With Moore eating up many of the offensive snaps, Greg Dortch has disappeared. He did play 36 percent against Carolina when A.J. Green was inactive. With Green back Sunday, Dortch managed only two snaps (3 percent). Even receiver Andre Baccellia had more against Philadelphia with 12 (17 percent).

Meanwhile, left guard Justin Pugh fought through his elbow injury and played all 69 snaps. The starting offensive line, which included Sean Harlow at center, also played every snap.

Regular center Rodney Hudson has been dealing with a knee injury since training camp, so Kingsbury was asked Monday if the plan is to keep him out until it’s right.

“We are going to see how he feels,” the coach said. “That was the thought this week. He didn’t feel great by the weekend and so we wanted to go ahead and rest it. So we gotta see Wednesday when he’s moving around what it feels like this week.”

For the second time this season, running back James Conner left the game with an injury. Against the Raiders, an ankle injury limited him to 21 percent of the snaps. It was an injury to his ribs Sunday that had him playing only 35 percent. The Cardinals were down to Eno Benjamin at running back at the end of the game after Darrel Williams departed with a knee injury and Jonathan Ward injured his hamstring.

Benjamin played 54 percent and Williams had 12 on offense. Ward, who has yet to play an offensive snap this season, played only two special-teams snaps after playing 52, 43, 68 and 70 percent in the first four games.

Kingsbury said Benjamin “was cramping the entire second half really, and just stayed out there and continued to make plays.” Benjamin said the cramping was in his left calf.

Rookie tight end Trey McBride played 25 percent of the snaps after being on the field for 42 percent against Carolina. He was not targeted in the passing game.

Linebacker Isaiah Simmons played his most snaps since having 87 percent in Week 1. The number fell to 22 and 33 percent until increasing to 83 against the Panthers. He played 92 percent Sunday, missing only six snaps.

For the third game this season, cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. and safeties Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson played every snap. In Week 2, Murphy and Thompson missed one snap, while Baker missed five in the season opener.

Oddly, cornerback Marco Wilson wasn’t on the field for the first defensive snap Sunday, but safety Chris Banjo was. Wilson finished with 93 percent, missing five, while Banjo played a total of five on defense.

Rookie linebacker Myjai Sanders was active for the first time this season and played eight snaps (11 percent) on defense and four (16 percent) on special teams.

Inside slants

Practice-squad moves the Cardinals made Monday had an impact on a few levels.

First, after tight end Maxx Williams was released on Friday, he was re-signed to the practice squad Monday. Williams has been dealing with knee and ankle issues, and it’s clear his release occurred in agreement with him and the team because players can’t be released while injured. There was no danger of Williams being claimed on waivers because as a vested veteran his contract automatically terminated.

Kingsbury said Monday, “We want Maxx to be here. We love what he’s about. He’s one of the real leaders in the locker room. And we just wanted to continue to work and feel more and more confident on that leg. Let’s get you back, continue to build confidence and at some point, I’m sure we’ll have him active again and rocking with us.”

Second, to make room for Williams on the practice squad, wide receiver C.J. Board was released, not kicker Matt Ammendola, who was elevated to the roster Saturday because Matt Prater was unable to kick because of a hip injury.

The Cardinals don’t know if Prater might be able to kick in Seattle next Sunday.

“I’m not sure on Matt,” Kingsbury said Monday. “We’re going to work him out Wednesday; see how he feels. But we’ll be smart; it’s a long season (and) we want to make sure he’s 100 percent before we get him back out there.”

The Cardinals had tryouts with three other kickers aside from Ammendola last week and did not report any new tryouts Monday. Any player on the roster or practice squad through Tuesday is paid for that week.

It remains to be seen whether there will be tryouts Tuesday, or if one of the players from last week is signed, or Ammendola is still around while Prater’s status is assessed. It’s difficult to imagine the Cardinals sending Ammendola to kick in anorher crucial situation.

The reality is that Ammendola was missing to the right in warmups prior to Sunday’s game. It’s also prescient to note that Baltimore’s Justin Tucker won the game for the Ravens Sunday night with a 43-yard field goal that was his 61st consecutive made field goal in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Of those kicks, 27 have been from 40 or more yards and he is 18-for-18 in his career on field-goal attempts in the final minute of regulation or overtime.

Yes, Tucker is probably a sure-fire Hall of Famer as hard as it can be for kickers to make the Hall. But he was a young, inexperienced kicker once as an undrafted free agent with the Ravens in 2012.

Ammendola is now 1-for-3 in the last four weeks on fourth-quarter kicks and 0-for-1 (the one Cardinals fans will remember for a long time) in the final minute of regulation. The other two attempts were a successful 31-yarder for the Chiefs against the Chargers in Week 2 and a 42-yard miss against the Colts in Week 3 that cost him his practice-squad job.

Last season with the Jets, he was 5-for-6 in the fourth quarter or overtime and 3-for-3 in the final minute or overtime. Of that latter group, one of the successes was from 49 yards with the others from 22 and 35 yards. His other two makes in the first group were from 24 and 37 yards.

He was cut by the Jets after missing a 42-yard fourth-quarter attempt despite giving them a 21-14 lead (which was the final score) over Houston later in the quarter on the 37-yarder with 3:34 to play.

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

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

OFFENSE (69 snaps, 17 players)

Quarterbacks: Kyler Murray (69/100)

Did not play: Trace McSorley. Reserve/injured: Colt McCoy (designated for return)

Running backs: Eno Benjamin (37/54), James Conner (24/35), Darrel Williams(8/12)

Did not play: *Jonathan Ward. Inactive: Keaontay Ingram

Wide receivers: Marquise Brown (67/97), Rondale Moore (63/91), A.J. Green (50/72), Andre Baccellia (12/17), Greg Dortch (2/3)

Reserve/injured: Antoine Wesley (designated for return). Reserve/suspended: WR DeAndre Hopkins

Tight ends: Zach Ertz (64/93), Trey McBride (17/25), Stephen Anderson (1/1)

Offensive linemen: LT D.J. Humphries (69/100), LG Justin Pugh (69/100), C Sean Harlow (69/100), RG Will Hernandez (69/100), RT Kelvin Beachum (69/100)

Did not play: T/G *Josh Jones, C *Lecitus Smith, C Billy Price. Inactive: C Rodney Hudson (injured), G Max Garcia (injured). Reserve/injured: G Cody Ford (eligible for return), G Marquis Hayes

DEFENSE (73 snaps, 21 players)

Defensive linemen: DE Zach Allen (58/79), DE J.J. Watt (55/75), DT Leki Fotu (39/53), DE Michael Dogbe (22/30), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (12/16)

Inactive: NT Rashard Lawrence (injured)

Linebackers: ILB Zaven Collins (73/100), ILB Isaiah Simmons (67/92), ILB Ben Niemann (45/62), OLB Markus Golden (41/56), OLB Devon Kennard (20/27), OLB Dennis Gardeck (16/22), OLB Victor Dimukeje (16/22), ILB Tanner Vallejo (12/16), OLB Cameron Thomas (10/14), OLB Myjai Sanders (8/11)

Did not play: ILB *Ezekiel Turner. Inactive: OLB Jesse Luketa. Reserve/injured (eligible for return): ILB Nick Vigil

Defensive backs: CB Byron Murphy Jr. (73/100), S Budda Baker (73/100), S Jalen Thompson (73/100), CB Marco Wilson (68/93), CB Antonio Hamilton (16/22), S Chris Banjo (5/7)

Did not play: CB *Christian Matthew. Inactive: CB Trayvon Mullen Jr. (injured)

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

SPECIAL TEAMS (25 snaps, 32 players)

TE Stephen Anderson (21/84), LB Tanner Vallejo (21/84), LB Dennis Gardeck (21/84), LB Ezekiel Turner (21/84), LB Victor Dimukeje (17/68), S Chris Banjo (17/68), CB Antonio Hamilton (15/60), CB Christian Matthew (15/60), TE Trey McBride (12/48), P Andy Lee (9/36), LS Aaron Brewer (9/36), DT Leki Fotu (8/32), K Matt Ammendola (7/28), RB Darrel Williams (7/28), RB/KOR Eno Benjamin (6/24), LB Ben Niemann (6/24), CB Marco Wilson (6/24), WR/PR Greg Dortch (5/20), T D.J. Humphries (4/16), T Kelvin Beachum (4/16), G Will Hernandez (4/16), T/G Josh Jones (4/16), C Lecitus Smith (4/16), WR Andre Baccellia (4/16), DE Zach Allen (4/16), DE Michael Dogbe (4/16), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (4/16), LB Myjai Sanders (4/16), S Budda Baker (4/16), S Jalen Thompson (4/16), RB Jonathan Ward (2/8), CB Byron Murphy Jr. (2/8)

Inactive: K Matt Prater (injured)

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

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