TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals will have to move forward without one of their best defensive players after linebacker Markus Golden tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, an injury that ended his season.
Golden, a third-year pro from Missouri whose 12½ sacks led the Cardinals last season, was injured while rushing the passer in overtime of Sunday’s 18-15 win over the San Francisco 49ers. He will need surgery after the swelling in his knee goes down, coach Bruce Arians said.
“It breaks everybody’s heart in there (locker room), because they know how hard he plays,” Arians said. “It takes a lot of spirit out of the defense, because he brings it on every play.”
Arians said any roster move to replace Golden could involve promoting a player from the practice squad or moving rookie Haason Reddick to Golden’s spot in special defensive packages and continuing the rotation pattern in games, which includes backup Kareem Martin.
“Kareem has been playing extremely well,” Arians said. “He’s gotten more physical.”
Many players’ thoughts were on Golden on Monday.
“Very good friend of mine,” said defensive lineman Rodney Gunter. “Great player. I told him to keep his head up and stay confident and come back strong.”
Golden had yet to get a sack this season but he had started every game. He joins four other Cardinals on injured reserve, including star running back David Johnson and four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati.
Iupati will need arm surgery and could be out two months. Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (knee) and offensive tackle D.J. Humphries were also injured in practice last week and didn’t play Sunday. Humphries could be a couple of weeks away from returning.
Offensive guard Alex Boone (pectoral injury) could return this week when the Cardinals play at Philadelphia. Boone missed Sunday’s game.
Offensive lineman Earl Watford, who signed with Jacksonville in the offseason but was released on Sept. 8, re-signed with Arizona on Monday. Watford played the past four seasons with the Cardinals and made 10 starts in 2016. He will be asked to help shore up an injury-riddled offensive line that gave up six sacks against the 49ers.
“It’s good. He knows the offense, he knows what to do, we know Earl,” tackle Jared Veldheer said.
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