Team Is What It Takes. The 2013 Arizona Cardinals slogan is being put to the test as the team has endured a plague of misfortune already this season. (And, it is barely week four.) First round pick Jonathan Cooper and linebacker Sam Acho have suffered season-ending broken fibulas. Rookie linebacker Alex Okafor tore a biceps tendon after a handful of plays against the New Orleans Saints, a game that left safety Rashad Johnson and veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander requiring surgery. Johnson lost the tip of his middle finger on a punt return and Alexander suffered a lisfranc foot injury. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is newly recovered and linebacker Kevin Minter is on the mend with hamstring issues. Running back Rashard Mendenhall, tight end Rob Housler, and defensive end Ronald Talley have respectively dealt with toe, ankle, and wrist complications. Wide receiver LaRon Byrd and tight end Jeff King are on the IR list as well.
Injuries are accepted as the costly price of sports entertainment that NFL athletes endure and would seem to be more frequent than in actuality. According to statistics cited in The Washington Post, lower leg (including ankle and foot) injuries account for about 1/4 of all injuries across all NFL positions. Injuries occur anywhere from once every 50 plays (on special teams) to approximately once every 260 plays (at quarterback position). Head coach Bruce Arians described the high energy and leadership quality of “core players” Acho and Alexander. The deep impact of their loss will likely be reflected most on special teams.
The Cardinals will continue to adjust to the “curve balls” thrown their way. The injured players have all expressed optimism on the road to recovery and Arians has offered an opportunistic point of view. Injuries are part of the business, are handled day by day, and it offers an opportunity for someone to step up. Linebacker Dontay Moch says the frustration of waiting for an opportunity like this “feeds you and drives you” to perform and that he is ready to be a predator for Arizona. Linebacker Karlos Dansby expects to take on more of a leadership role, saying that the team “can’t sit back and wait”, they have to take charge and make the most of the people that are available.
Aside from injuries, tragedy has struck at the heart of Dan Williams after a personal loss this week. Williams’ family – his mother, sister, and father – were driving from Memphis to New Orleans for the game when they were involved in a car accident, one that was fatal for his father. Team captain Darnell Dockett said that family is more important than the NFL and that the team will be happy to welcome Williams back after he takes as much time as he needs to be with his family. The funeral will take place this Saturday and Williams is not expected to play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.