While the Arizona Cardinals have been plagued by injury issues through the first five weeks of the regular season, an extended rest in between a Thursday matchup with San Francisco and Monday night's showdown with New York has given key players the chance to heal up.
Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians said he expects as few as two players on the team's 53-man roster to miss Monday's contest, as defensive tackle Ed Stinson is out while left guard Mike Iupati remains questionable.
Iupati did not practice during the week, but as a veteran on a line suddenly flushed with inexperience, Arians said if Iupati is able to play, he would not hesitate putting him in the lineup against the Jets.
"If he can go, he can go," Arians said.
The Cardinals currently have eight different players on the team's injured reserve list, and have negotiated injury settlements with a handful of key players since the end of training camp.
One of the players who received an injury settlement was punter Drew Butler, who suffered an Achilles' injury against Buffalo. The Cardinals replaced Butler with former Jets punter Ryan Quigley, and so far, Arians has been satisfied with the change.
"Been very good, I'm very pleased with the balls downed inside the 20," Arians said. "The first week we didn't do a good job of that but he's (Quigley) done a really good job. His hang time in the first couple was outstanding. So far, he's been really good, good job holding."
Another player thrust into the lineup as a result of injuries is safety D.J. Swearinger, who spent most of fall camp practicing with the first team defense knowing he would likely return to a reserve role at the start of the regular season.
Swearinger was expected to be the third safety behind Tony Jefferson and Tyrann Mathieu, but an injury to nickel cornerback Tyvon Branch forced Mathieu to return to his old position at nickel and allowed Swearinger to enter the starting lineup.
The fourth-year safety out of South Carolina was a journeyman before arriving to Arizona late last season following Mathieu's ACL tear, but he appears to have found a home in a Cardinals' secondary that feeds off of his physicality.
"Really, really well, he's playing free safety and doing a really good job," Arians said. "He likes to hit more than play back there but you like to have that too."
With a groin injury forcing veteran running back Chris Johnson to join Branch on the injured reserve list, starting running back David Johnson saw his role expand against the San Francisco 49ers as he carried 27 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the Cardinals' Thursday night victory.
Arians and the Cardinals know Johnson is among the team's most talented players and an asset they'll need to ride if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive, but Arians said Johnson must continue to improve because he's leaving yards on the field and suffering mental mistakes that have hurt Arizona's offense.
"Everything, he's a second-year player and holding onto the ball is the biggest thing," Arians said. "Eliminating the one or two mental errors that are costing him having great games."
With players stepping up after key injuries, the Cardinals found a way to defeat San Francisco and move to 2-3. Now, with the division leading Seahawks sitting at 5-1 and the Los Angeles Rams at 3-3, Arizona has an opportunity to move into a tie for second place with a victory over a 1-4 New York Jets squad.
"Good week of practice, anxious to see us play, want to see if we can show up two weeks in a row and play like we're capable of playing," Arians said.null