A season ago, the Arizona Cardinals were next to last in the NFL at running the football. They were also quite flawed in terms of protecting Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton at quarterback. So, it was no surprise that the Cardinals set out to upgrade those aspects of their game. Signing ex-49ers guard, Mike Iupati was looked at as one of the major signings of the off-season. Unfortunately, Iupati suffered a torn meniscus in training camp that has required surgery. A loss that will definitely hurt as Arizona tries to chase down the defending NFC champ Seattle Seahawks.
In addition to signing Iupati away from San Fran, the Cardinals drafted Florida Gators right tackle, D.J. Humphries in the first round and were looking toward the further development of former first round pick, Jonathan Cooper to help bolster the inside of their line even more. Depending how Iupati’s knee reacts to the surgery, he stands to be out at least six weeks, but could be out as many as eight weeks. Some have have said it could be as little as three weeks. But, that seems very unlikely and probably wouldn’t be a good idea long term.
Meanwhile, the Cards defense also took a hit as new defensive tackle, Corey Peters, who came to Arizona from the Atlanta Falcons, suffered a season-ending torn achilles injury. Peters’ injury is obviously worse, but the Cardinals lack of a consistent running game, and Palmer’s injury problems were the main reasons the Cards didn’t win a couple more games last season.
Things seemed to be looking up with Iupati, a three-time Pro Bowler anchoring the offensive line. Andre Ellington, who showed flashes of being an impact runner, even as he played through a knee injury he suffered in week one. Ellington, looked to have a big 2015 with more push from his blockers and bigger holes to run through. The Cardinals had also just picked up Chris Johnson to add a little depth, and to see if he could resurrect a career that once made him one of the NFL’s most electrifying running backs. That’s likely on hold now as the Cards wait for Iupati to return.
Iupati, is no stranger to injuries. He spent a week out of the lineup due to a concussion last season with the Niners. In the Niners infamous 2014 NFC Championship game loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Iupati suffered a fractured ankle. However, he was to good to go for the start of the 2014 season. The 5-year veteran has only missed five games to injury in his career. Four of those came when he sprained his MCL in the 2013 season. So, even though he’s had a variety of injuries, he’s seemingly recovered well from them. For the Cardinals sake, that could be good news. Maybe, they’ll get him back sooner than later.
Meanwhile, sixth-year veteran Ted Larsen, or third-year veteran Earl Watford look to replace Iupati. With so much of any success being dependent on Carson Palmer staying healthy this is the absolute last thing that needed happen for Bruce Arians and his squad. Speaking of Arians, let’s not understate the incredible job he did with this team last season. With Arians, and a stubborn defense there is much potential to be even better, if the offense can stay on track. However, averaging 81 yards per game on the ground and seeing Palmer on the sideline instead of under center will not help them reach that potential.