Arizona Cardinals WR Rondale Moore says he's ready to play Panthers; S Chris Banjo returns
Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore met with reporters on Thursday for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury three days before the team’s season opener and pronounced himself “good, solid” and ready to go Sunday against the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.
“It’s great. I’m excited to be back, healthy and ready to compete,” Moore said after participating in his second straight practice.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday the team was hopeful it could get something out of Moore during Sunday’s game but added, “We’ll be smart and limit kind of what he does.” Asked if he thinks he’ll be on a pitch count of sorts, Moore said, “I’m good” and repeated it again after a follow-up question.
If Moore can go, it will help offset the loss of veteran wideout A.J. Green, who is expected to be ruled out because of a bone bruise to his left knee. Moore would join forces with Arizona’s other top two receivers, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Greg Dortch. Brown caught 14 passes for 140 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Rams. Dortch added nine receptions for 80 yards.
Moore was on track to take on a much greater role in Kingsbury’s up-tempo offense and the plan was not only to move him around to utilize his speed and catching prowess, but to put him in situations where he could be a regular deep threat for quarterback Kyler Murray.
He injured his hamstring, however, running a route in practice and hasn’t played in a game since last season.
“It sucks,” Moore said of getting hurt. “I don’t have a lot of words for it. Obviously, as a player, you want to go out there and play and show off the work you put in and have fun and be with your teammates. It just sucks, man. I’m excited to be back, though, so it’s going to be fun.”
Not practicing for a second straight day for the Cardinals were Green, defensive end J.J. Watt (calf/illness), defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence (hand) and linebacker Ezekiel Turner (ankle). Center Rodney Hudson (knee) and left guard Justin Pugh (elbow) were upgraded to limited.
Moore was limited for a second straight day, as were linebacker Zaven Collins (shoulder), running back James Conner (knee), Dortch (back) and kicker Matt Prater (hip).
For the Panthers, running back Christian McCaffrey (thigh) missed his second straight practice. Defensive end Marquise Haynes Sr. (knee) was added to the injury report Thursday and did not participate in practice. Listed as limited were linebacker Frankie Luvu (shoulder), receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring), tight end Ian Thomas (ankle), cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver (Achilles) and safety Zavier Woods (hamstring).
Two days after releasing safety Deionte Thompson after he made a mistake that led to a blocked punt, the Cardinals brought back veteran safety Chris Banjo and signed him to the practice squad, where he can be elevated to the active roster for at least three games.
Banjo spent the past three years with the Cardinals, appearing in 42 games, including 16 last season. The nine-year pro has also spent time with the Packers (2013-16) and Saints (2016-19). He’s been a special teams standout, having 53 career tackles on punt and kickoff coverage. He has 79 career tackles on defense along with three interceptions, eight passes defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Week 4 matchup: How Cardinals' roster stacks up for game vs. Panthers
The Cardinals are hoping for the best and bracing for the worst, weather-wise, when they meet the Panthers on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C. thanks to the remnants of Tropical Storm Ian, which made landfall in Florida on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane.
Forecasts in the Charlotte area call for a 60-percent chance of rain on game day. Things could change, however.
“Obviously, it affects the game,” quarterback Kyler Murray said. “I think it affects everybody’s game. If it’s raining, we’ve got to have a plan for that. If it’s storming, we’ve got to have a plan for that. We’ll be ready to go regardless of if it’s sunny or if it’s raining.”
If it’s the latter, how might it affect Cardinals kicker Matt Prater and punter/holder Andy Lee?
“Anytime it’s windy or raining, obviously it makes your job a little harder,” Prater said. “But it shouldn’t change things too much. I’m sure Andy and (long snapper Aaron) Brewer will be working wet-ball drills. … I’m from Florida and I’ve definitely played in games right after a hurricane, at least on the outskirts of it. It is what it is. You’ve just got to deal with it.”
Lee said his biggest concern just might be fielding the snaps from Brewer on punts and holder situations on field goals and extra points.
“It’ll probably be a little wet,” he said. “Winds could be big, they could be low. We’re not sure when it’s going to come through there yet. But the field will be fine. They have Field Turf so the field shouldn’t be an issue. That will be a positive thing. It’s just handling the ball. It can sometimes slow you down a little bit, so you have to be cognizant of that.”
Sanders staying positive
The Cardinals have played three games this season and outside linebacker Myjai Sanders, the second of their two third-round draft picks, has yet to be active on game day. There’s been no indication that could change Sunday against the Panthers, but the former Cincinnati Bearcat is doing his best to try and stay positive.
Despite a strong preseason showing, Sanders has fallen down the depth chart behind starters Markus Golden and Dennis Gardeck as well as backups Devon Kennard, Victor Dimukeje and Cameron Thomas, Arizona’s first pick in the third round out of San Diego State.
“I’m good. I’m just waiting on my opportunity, trying to make the best of my days as I can,” Sanders said. “I’m just trying to stay ready.”
It hasn’t been easy, though. Sanders has gone through a wave of thoughts and emotions, but smartly is just trying to control what he can control.
“I’m just waiting for the opportunity and the right time and make sure when I get in, I’ll have my role on the team,” he said. “I’m just practicing hard every day and being ready for that role.”
Murray supports Pro Bowl change
Murray was named to the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons and both experiences were vastly different. In 2021 because of COVID concerns, a select group of players decided the outcome between the NFC and AFC by playing against each via video game on Madden NFL. Before the last Super Bowl, the NFL reverted to playing the Pro Bowl on the field.
That game turned out to be more of the same what it had been delivering in recent years — a contest played mostly at half-speed rather than full-go, especially in the trenches, with minimal competitiveness drawing yawns in the television rating.
This season, the NFL changed the Pro Bowl’s format, pitting the best players from each conference in the new “Pro Bowl Games,” which now will feature a flag football game and a skills competition in events ranging from dodgeball, precision passing, a best-catch event and races to determine the fastest man.
“I think it’s probably best we change it just because guys don’t want to go out there and bang each other up even more,” Murray said. “When you’ve got the best of the best out there moving fast and stuff like that, people are liable to get hurt. I think it’ll be fun. I think it’s a new innovative way to get everybody involved.”
The Pro Bowl Games will be held in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 5, a week before Super Bowl 57 will be staged in Glendale at State Farm Stadium.
Have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Reach McManaman at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch.
News and information you can trust. Start your online subscription.