It was a game in which the Cardinals had only eight of the 22 projected starters at the beginning of the season available to play, so it’s no surprise there were some eye-opening snap counts in the 20-19 loss to the Falcons.

One that stood out was rookie cornerback Christian Matthew being the only defensive starter to play every snap. At the position, he was followed closely by Jace Whittaker, who missed only three.

Josh Jackson, who was claimed on waivers from the Steelers at the beginning of the week, did not play.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury said it was “a tall task” for Matthew to do what he did after not playing much in the first 15 games of the season and added, “But I thought he did a nice job. The more he plays the more confident he gets and the more comfortable he gets. He’s just got to keep coming on. He’s got good size and length and he’s an older rookie.

“I think he’s 25, 26 years old, so he is mature. (He) just has to play more, but I thought he made some nice plays on the football, particularly there in the end zone that gave us a chance at the end.”

Matthew turned 26 on Oct. 26.

Cornerbacks Antonio Hamilton and Marco Wilson were both inactive and Kingsbury said, when asked if they might play in the season finale, “I don’t know. Ham would be one that hopefully we can get back, but I’m not sure. We’ll talk this afternoon and kind of see where his back’s at.”

Also on defense, rookie defensive lineman Manny Jones played 22 snaps (35 percent) after Jonathan Ledbetter was injured.

On offense, running back James Conner left the game with a shin injury and played only 41 snaps (55 percent). Kingsbury said Conner is “day-to-day. That’s all I heard as of now. It was nothing major, which is good. X-rays were negative, but we’ll see how he feels (over) the next couple of days.”

Wide receiver Marquise Brown had an arm injury, but it didn’t affect his snaps (67/91 percent) and Kingsbury said, “The same (as Conner), is what I’ve been told. I haven’t heard anything new, but it wasn’t anything that showed up on the x-ray.”

As for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins playing this week, the coach said, “We’ll see how it feels this week. Yeah.”

With Hopkins out, Andre Baccellia played 35 snaps (47 percent), while A.J. Green and Robbie Anderson played only 12/16 and 17/23, respectively.

With tight end Stephen Anderson unavailable because of an illness after the inactive list was submitted, Maxx Williams played more than usual and the special teams had to be adjusted.

Anderson was administered an IV before the game and Kingsbury said “and then wasn’t feeling well, so we had to make that decision right before. Obviously, when you have him in the game plan, offensively and on special teams, it’s not easy, but Maxx Williams stepped in offensively and did a nice job. It was kind of a group effort on special teams to fill his spot.”

The eight starters referenced earlier were right tackle Kelvin Beachum, Conner and Brown on offense along with defensive end J.J. Watt, linebackers Zaven Collins, Isaiah Simmons and Markus Golden, and safety Jalen Thompson.

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

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

OFFENSE (74 snaps, 18 players)

Quarterbacks: David Blough (74/100)

Did not play: Trace McSorley. Inactive: Colt McCoy (injured). Reserve/injured: Kyler Murray

Running backs: James Conner (41/55), Corey Clement (32/43), Keaontay Ingram (1/1)

Reserve/injured: Darrel Williams (eligible to return)

Wide receivers: Marquise Brown (67/91), Greg Dortch (60/81), Andre Baccellia (35/47), A.J. Green (12/16), Robbie Anderson (17/23), Pharoh Cooper (7/9)

Inactive: WR DeAndre Hopkins (injured). Reserve/injured: Rondale Moore, Antoine Wesley

Tight ends: Trey McBride (71/96), Maxx Williams (25/34)

Did not play: Stephen Anderson (illness). Reserve/injured: Zach Ertz (eligible to return)

Offensive linemen: LT Josh Jones (74/100), LG Max Garcia (74/100), C Billy Price (74/100), RG Will Hernandez (74/100), RT Kelvin Beachum (74/100), Sean Harlow (2/3)

Did not play: T/G *Cody Ford, G *Lecitus Smith. Inactive: G Rashaad Coward, G 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 (62 snaps, 21 players)

Defensive linemen: DE J.J. Watt (56/90), NT Leki Fotu (40/65), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (16/26), DE Michael Dogbe (40/65), DE Manny Jones (22/35)

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

Linebackers: ILB Zaven Collins (59/95), OLB Markus Golden (49/79), ILB Ezekiel Turner (34/55), OLB Myjai Sanders (26/42), OLB Cameron Thomas (23/37), ILB Ben Niemann (19/31), OLB Dennis Gardeck (18/29), ILB Tanner Vallejo (11/18), OLB Jesse Luketa (11/18), ILB Kamu Grugier-Hill (7/11)

Inactive: OLB Victor Dimukeje. Reserve/injured ILB Nick Vigil (eligible to return)

Defensive backs: CB Christian Matthew (62/100), S Jalen Thompson (61/98), S Isaiah Simmons (59/95), CB Jace Whittaker (59/95), S Chris Banjo (9/15), S Josh Thomas (1/2)

Did not play: S *Charles Washington, CB Josh Jackson. Inactive: CB Antonio Hamilton, CB Marco Wilson. Reserve/injured: S Budda Baker, CB Byron Murphy Jr.

SPECIAL TEAMS (25 snaps, 31 players)

LB Ezekiel Turner (19/76), LB Dennis Gardeck (19/76), LB Tanner Vallejo (19/76), S Chris Banjo (19/76), S Charles Washington (19/76), LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (15/60), LB Jesse Luketa (13/52), K Matt Prater (12/48), WR/RS Pharoh Cooper (11/44), RB Corey Clement (10/40), TE Maxx Williams (10/40), DT Leki Fotu (10/40), CB Jace Whittaker (9/36), P Andy Lee (8/32), TE Trey McBride (8/32), LB Cameron Thomas (7/28), LS Hunter Bradley (7/28), CB Christian Matthew (7/28), T Josh Jones (6/24), G Max Garcia (6/24), C/G Sean Harlow (6/24), T Cody Ford (6/24), G Lecitus Smith (6/24), DE Michael Dogbe (4/16), S Josh Thomas (4/16), DE Manny Jones (3/12), LB Ben Niemann (3/12), LB Zaven Collins (3/12), RB Keaontay Ingram (2/8), WR Andre Baccellia (2/8), DE Jonathan Ledbetter (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.