Rams’ defense depleted as Cardinals’ defense gets reinforcements

·2 min read

The Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams meet in the first round of the playoffs on Monday night. It is the third time they face one another.

They split both of those games.

It should be a fun game.

But the health of both teams could be a factor in outcome.

Both teams have had to deal with losses on defense, but the Cardinals have the advantage in that their defense is getting healthy, while the Rams have suffered recent losses.

The Rams’ recent defensive losses

Los Angeles will play the Cardinals without three defensive starters who were on the field when they last met in Week 14.

Linebacker Ernest Jones has been on injured reserve for two weeks. He has a high ankle sprain and must miss at least one more week, which means the Rams will be without one of their starting linebackers.

They will be missing both their starting safeties.

Jordan Fuller suffered an ankle injury in Week 18. He was placed on injured reserve. Taylor Rapp suffered a concussion and did not practice all week. He did not clear protocols and was ruled out against the Cardinals. If you recall, Rapp picked off Kyler Murray in both games the two teams played in 2019.

The Cardinals’ coming reinforcements

Defensive lineman Jordan Phillips appears set to return. He missed the final three games of the regular season with a knee injury. He is officially questionable for the game but was able to participate fully in practice on Saturday. He had a sack in each of the last two games he played, including in Week 14 against the Rams.

J.J. Watt could return as well. He did not have any setbacks in his week of practice and is trending towards playing. If he is able to, it means the Cardinals will have their two best interior pass rushers joining Zach Allen.

Cornerbacks Marco Wilson and Kevin Peterson will both be in the lineup.

Wilson missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. Peterson exited the game last week with a concussion and did not return. They will be able to roll with a quartet of players at cornerback in Wilson, Peterson, Byron Murphy and some Antonio Hamilton mixed in.

When the Cardinals beat the Rams in Week 4, they did not sack Matthew Stafford but they did get a lot of pressure on him, which led to erratic throws.

In Week 14, he was nearly perfect.

This week, the defense should be geared up and ready to deal with whatever the Rams have to offer.

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