For essentially the entire season, Cardinals right tackle Kelvin Beachum had been the ironman on the team’s offensive line. As players went down all around him, Beachum was the constant, missing only eight snaps in the season opener against Kansas City when numerous offensive backups entered the end of the blowout and one snap in Week 10 against the Rams, the last game the Cardinals won this season.

Sunday, it was Beachum’s turn as suffered a knee and ankle injury on the third play of the second half on the same play in which quarterback Colt McCoy left the game with a concussion after running for a first down. Had McCoy not collided with Beachum, neither might have been injured. McCoy blacked out at one point, while Beachum eventually, but missed 16 snaps.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury said of Beachum potentially playing in the next game, “He’s a tough guy. We needed him. He taped it up and continued to play. Obviously, they’ve got a good pass rush, so he was much needed out there, but we’ll see. I don’t know if he’ll make it back for Sunday, but I know he’s going to try.”

McCoy is in concussion protocol and it’s possible he won’t play against Tampa Bay on Christmas night. In that case, Trace McSorley will start with the recently signed David Blough as the backup.

Asked if McCoy will be limited even if he clears concussion protocol, Kingsbury said, “Yeah. I think we would err on the side of caution, no question.”

Meanwhile, with the return of right guard Will Hernandez after he missed four games because of a pectoral injury, Max Garcia switched to left guard where Cody Ford had started the previous game and Rashaad Coward the three games before that. That was the 10th different line combination the Cardinals have played this season. Garcia did miss eight snaps, so rookie Lecitus Smith, who had started two earlier games at right guard, played on the left side with Garcia out.

Garcia injured what is believed to be the same shoulder that caused him to miss time earlier in the season. It happened making a tackle on McSorley’s first interception. Kingsbury said he’s day-to-day and added, “We’ve got to see how he feels throughout the week.”

The Cardinals have had 1,003 offensive snaps this season and 13 players have participated in at least one snap:

Beachum 978/97.5 percent; Hernandez 643/64.1; D.J. Humphries 575/57.3; Billy Price 552/55.0; Josh Jones 438/43.7; Garcia 342/34.1; Ford 334/33.3; Rodney Hudson 303/30.2; Justin Pugh 263/26.2; Sean Harlow 226/22.5; Lecitus Smith 209/20.8; Coward 156/15.6; Wyatt Davis 1/0.1.

The four projected starters aside from Beachum (Humphries, Pugh, Hudson and Hernandez) have played only 44.5 percent of the total snaps this season.

At left guard, there have been five different starters: Pugh 5, Coward 3, Ford 3, Garcia 2 and Harlow 1.

Snap shots

With the team’s top three cornerbacks (Byron Murphy Jr., Marco Wilson and Antonio Hamilton) inactive, rookie Christian Matthew and Jace Whittaker started and played most of the game. Matthew played 66 snaps (96 percent) and Whittaker 62 (90 percent). Nate Hairston, elevated from the practice squad for the game, played three snaps.

Murphy has now missed the last five games. While saying all are day-to-day, Kingsbury added, “Byron may be a little bit longer than that, but those other two have made progress and we’re hopeful they can be back. We need them obviously.”

Since tight end Zach Ertz tore an ACL and MCL on his ninth snap in Week 10 against the Rams, rookie Trey McBride has played 279 snaps (80.9 percent). He played 91 percent in that game against the Rams and 86 percent against Denver Sunday.

That was after playing only 142 snaps in the first nine games and six in the first three. He had four receptions for 55 yards including one for 29 yards against the Broncos.

Rookie linebacker Myjai Sanders played only 11 snaps, but had one sack, one fumble recovery, one tackle and a quarterback hit. … With Zach Allen out after undergoing hand surgery last week, defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter started for the second time in four games and played 41 snaps (59 percent). He had six tackles (two solo) with a tackle for loss, one sack and one quarterback hit. As for Allen returning, Kingsbury said, “I don’t think it’ll be this week. Maybe the last couple he’ll have a shot, but not this week.”

Charting the snaps (snaps/percentage; starters in bold)

*Indicates player that did not play from scrimmage, but participated on special teams

OFFENSE (65 snaps, 19 players)

Quarterbacks: Colt McCoy (35/54), Trace McSorley (30/46)

Inactive: David Blough. Reserve/injured: Kyler Murray

Running backs: James Conner (59/91), Keaontay Ingram (8/12)

Did not play: *Corey Clement. Reserve/injured: Darrel Williams (eligible to return)

Wide receivers: DeAndre Hopkins (60/92), Marquise Brown (58/89), A.J. Green (37/57), Robbie Anderson (24/37), Greg Dortch (6/9)

Reserve/injured: Rondale Moore, Antoine Wesley

Tight ends: Trey McBride (56/86), Maxx Williams (13/20), Stephen Anderson (4/6)

Reserve/injured: Zach Ertz (eligible to return)

Offensive linemen: LT Josh Jones (65/100), C Billy Price (65/100), RG Will Hernandez (65/100), LG Max Garcia (57/88), RT Kelvin Beachum (49/75), RT Cody Ford (16/25), LG Lecitus Smith (8/12)

Did not play: C/G *Sean Harlow. Inactive: G Rashaad Coward (injured), Wyatt Davis. Reserve/injured: LT D.J. Humphries (eligible to return), C Rodney Hudson (eligible to return), LG Justin Pugh (eligible to return), T Josh Miles, G Marquis Hayes

DEFENSE (69 snaps, 23 players)

Defensive linemen: DE J.J. Watt (58/84), NT Leki Fotu (49/71), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (41/59), NT Trysten Hill (23/33), DE Manny Jones (13/19)

Inactive: DE Zach Allen. Reserve/injured: NT Rashard Lawrence (eligible to return)

Linebackers: ILB Zaven Collins (69/100), ILB Isaiah Simmons (61/88), OLB Markus Golden (49/71), ILB Tanner Vallejo (37/54), ILB Ben Niemann (19/28), OLB Victor Dimukeje (14/20), OLB Myjai Sanders (11/16), OLB Dennis Gardeck (11/16), OLB Cameron Thomas (10/14), ILB Ezekiel Turner (9/13), ILB Kamu Grugier-Hill (6/9), OLB Jesse Luketa (6/9)

Reserve/injured ILB Nick Vigil (eligible to return)

Defensive backs: S Budda Baker (68/99), S Jalen Thompson (66/96), CB Christian Matthew (66/96), CB Jace Whittaker (62/90), S Chris Banjo (9/13), CB Nate Hairston (3/4)

Did not play: S *Charles Washington. Inactive: CB Byron Murphy Jr. (injured), CB Antonio Hamilton (injured), CB Marco Wilson (injured)

SPECIAL TEAMS (28 snaps, 32 players)

LB Ezekiel Turner (25/89), LB Dennis Gardeck (25/89), S Chris Banjo (25/89), LB Tanner Vallejo (21/75), LB Victor Dimukeje (20/71), LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (20/71), S Charles Washington (20/71), WR/RS Greg Dortch (16/57), TE Stephen Anderson (15/54), P Andy Lee (9/32), LS Aaron Brewer (9/32), RB Corey Clement (9/32), LB Ben Niemann (9/32), CB Nate Hairston (9/32), TE Maxx Williams (8/29), DT Leki Fotu (8/29), K Matt Prater (7/25), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (5/18), LB Zaven Collins (5/18), LB Cameron Thomas (5/18), CB Christian Matthew (5/18), CB Jace Whittaker (5/18), S Budda Baker (5/18), DT Trysten Hill (4/14), T Josh Jones (3/11), T Cody Ford (3/11), G Lecitus Smith (3/11), C/G Sean Harlow (3/11), TE Trey McBride (3/11), T Kelvin Beachum (2/7), G Max Garcia (1/4), DE Manny Jones (1/4)

Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions on Twitter @hbalzer721 or email me:


Howard Balzer is in his 47th year covering professional football as a writer, editor and broadcaster and has covered 41 Super Bowls. His connection with pro football began in 1976 with College and Pro Football Newsweekly, and since then he has been a featured columnist for The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, USA Today Sports Weekly and The Sports Xchange. Balzer moved to St. Louis in 1978 to work for The Sporting News, where he became Pro Football Editor in 1979. He was an analyst on ESPN's initial broadcast of the NFL Draft in 1980 and continued in that role through 1988. He has won seven writing awards in the Professional Football Writers of America competition, won an Emmy for commentaries on KPLR-TV in St. Louis in 1986 and was nominated for an Emmy in 1988 and 1990. He was named the 2016 winner of the Bob Broeg Media Award presented by the St. Louis/Tom Lombardo Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. The award is for enthusiasm, integrity, professionalism and devotion to the game of football and is reserved for individuals whose contributions to football in the St. Louis area have made a significant difference. Balzer was an officer (secretary and secretary/treasurer) for the Professional Football Writers of America for 33 years and was inducted into the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Balzer relocated to the Phoenix area in 2020 as the publisher of the FanNation AllCardinals site and is now the Cardinals reporter for PHNX. He is entering his 19th year as one of 49 voting members on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is also on the Hall's Seniors Committee. He is the co-host of the weekly Pro Football Hall of Fame radio show on SiriusXM NFL Radio and is a part-time host at ArizonaSports 98.7 FM.