Hours after he was ruled out for Thursday's game against the Green Bay Packers, news broke that J.J. Watt needs shoulder surgery that will likely end his season.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday night that Watt needs the procedure for an injury suffered in Sunday's win over the Houston Texans, his former team. According to the report, Watt got hurt in the second quarter and continued to play after halftime. The Cardinals announced earlier Wednesday that Watt missed his third straight practice with a shoulder injury and ruled him out for Thursday's game.
Watt, 32, is in his first season with the Cardinals after 10 seasons in Houston that included three Defensive Player of the Year awards. Injuries have forced Watt to play eight games or fewer in three of the past five seasons.
He played a full slate in Houston last season and started in Arizona's first seven games this year as the Cardinals' defense improved from 13th in 2020 to the league's fourth-best unit in terms of yards allowed through seven weeks. Watt tallied 10 quarterback hits, one sack, two passes defended and a forced fumble in seven games.
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins also missed his third straight practice Wednesday with a hamstring ailment. He drew a questionable tag after Wednesday's session.
Packers shorthanded too?
The Packers are also facing the prospect of showing up shorthanded as they deal with COVID-19 exposures. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry tested positive for COVID-19 and isn't traveling with the Packers to Arizona. Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray will handle defensive play-calling duties in his absence. Gray has previously worked as a defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.
The Packers also placed wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. The designation doesn't necessarily mean that either of them contracted COVID-19. Placement on the list could result from a positive test or exposure to someone who has tested positive. It's unclear if either or both players have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The status for both players in terms of Thursday's game has yet to be determined. NFL Network's Steve Wyche reported Wednesday that Adams was not traveling with the team to Arizona. If he is vaccinated and returns consecutive negative tests in time for the game, he could conceivably travel separately on gameday and play.
Randall Cobb would move to the top of Green Bay's wide receiver depth chart if both players can't go.
The 6-1 Packers — 6.5-point underdogs at BetMGM — will look to deliver the 7-0 Cardinals their first loss in a game that could play a significant role in NFC playoff seeding.