After jumping out to a 7-0 start this season, the Cardinals stumbled down the stretch, dropping four of their last five games to finish as the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoff bracket. Arizona could certainly use some help as it heads to Los Angeles to face a Rams team with Super Bowl aspirations — and that help could come in the form of two veteran players.
Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive lineman J.J. Watt have both missed significant portions of the 2021 regular season with injuries, but there has been speculation about the stars returning to action for Arizona’s wild-card matchup against Los Angeles. Will they be able to suit up?
Here are the latest updates on Hopkins and Watt ahead of Monday’s game.
Will DeAndre Hopkins play vs. Rams?
Last Wednesday, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury revealed Hopkins will not be available to return for the wild-card game. Hopkins suffered a torn MCL in Week 14, and the injury required surgery.
Kingsbury’s announcement didn’t come as much of a surprise. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in mid-December that Hopkins “could be back” for the NFC championship game or Super Bowl if the Cardinals were able to advance that far, but it was “unrealistic” to expect a return any earlier than those rounds.
In 10 regular-season games, Hopkins had 42 receptions for 572 yards and eight touchdowns.
Will J.J. Watt play vs. Rams?
Watt, who appeared to suffer a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 7, is expected to play in the wild-card game, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer.
The Cardinals designated Watt to return from injured reserve on Jan. 7, opening the door for an incredible comeback. While he hasn’t officially been cleared to play, Kingsbury told reporters on Saturday that Watt has “done everything humanly possible to put himself in this position.”
“I know, if he has it his way, he’ll be out there,” Kingsbury said. “But we’ve got to be smart, do the right thing and make sure it’s right for all parties involved.”
The former Defensive Player of the Year only posted 16 total tackles and one sack in seven games this season before undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder, but he is still capable of creating problems for opposing offensive lines when healthy.
Cardinals vs. Rams injury report
(Current as of 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday)