Much has been made of the Arizona Cardinals' problems on both sides of the ball this season. An offense that hasn't found consistency and has had problems with even the basics of running plays. A defense that has played well in stretches of the season and in games, but this past Sunday couldn't keep the Los Angeles Chargers from a game-tying touchdown and game-winning two-point conversion.
And on special teams, four different kickers in 2022 alone.
At least some of the deficiencies and issues the Cardinals have had as they begin their bye week can be attributed to an almost unimaginable injury situation. The team won't use it as much of an excuse for being 4-8, but not having key players and depth available every week has certainly been a factor.
The Cardinals this week provided a breakdown of their injuries this season. It started with this: When wide receiver/return specialist Pharoh Cooper played in Sunday's game against the Chargers, he became the 77th player to see action for Arizona this season.
That number leads the NFL.
The Cardinals have 14 players currently on injured reserve. Seven were Week 1 starters and four of those are offensive linemen D.J. Humphries, Justin Pugh, Rodney Hudson and Will Hernandez. Only right tackle Kelvin Beachum has remained healthy to date.
Beachum is the only player who has started every game on offense for the Cardinals this season.
The Cardinals have had 12 different starting lineups on offense and 11 on defense. The only players to have started all three games on defense are defensive lineman Zach Allen, safety Budda Baker (who suffered a sprained ankle a few weeks ago but still played through it) and linebacker Zaven Collins.
Only the New Orleans Saints have had more defensive starting lineups with 12.
As of Tuesday the Cardinals have had 31 different players miss a combined 165 games due to injury so far this season. That doesn't include the six games wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins sat out due to a suspension.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury is asked every week if some player is ready to return from injury or how injured players are progressing in terms of trying to come back. It's a common refrain this season.
"We’re hopeful for Will (Hernandez) or Rodney. I don’t know what that’s going to look like but hopefully one of the two at some point in the near future we can get back in there," Kingsbury said Monday.
Humphries, the left tackle, has been pronounced out for the season.
According to the team, there have been eight different starting offensive line combinations, six of those in the last eight games and five in the last six games. Twelve different players have started at least one game on the offensive line, and only the lowly Los Angeles Rams have had to use more at 14.
Eight different offensive linemen have missed a combined total of 57 games, and six are on injured reserve.
Offensive line continuity is key to the success of any team. The Cardinals really haven't had it.
Beachum has tried to take something positive from the situation.
"It’s been challenging. But at the same time you’ve got to find a way to thrive. It’s been cool to have some different guys in and find a way to lead in a different way," Beachum said after Sunday's game. "It’s being able to talk on the sideline, being able to talk during the week. It’s being able to have the conversations that I’m having with our staff about things that we’re thinking about, and how we’re putting guys in situations to be successful. It’s been cool to be a part of that entire process, but it’s been emotionally and mentally draining. But that’s what we’re paid to do. We’re paid to win games, we’re paid to prepare, we’re paid to find a way to get wins. This year we just haven’t done that consistently enough."
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Cardinals' injury situation has part in team's lack of success