Arizona likely lost fellow linebacker Jeremy Cash for the year on Saturday night, as his knee injury is believed to be season-ending. Cash wasn’t viewed as a starter for the Cardinals, but was expected to play a key role as a reserve and special-teamer, so Hodges, who worked out for Arizona in late July, will likely take over in both capacities.
Hodges, 27, could prove to be even more valuable than a generic backup, as he has plenty of experience (65 appearances, 25 starts) under his belt. A fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft, Hodges entered the NFL with the Vikings before being traded to the 49ers midway through the 2015 season.
The 2016 campaign was one of Hodges’ finest — Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s No. 21 linebacker — but he garnered scant interest on the open market. He landed with the Saints in October and played mostly special teams snaps down the stretch.
Hodges is capable of playing all three linebacker positions, so he’ll add depth behind starters Haason Reddick, Deone Bucannon, and Josh Bynes. Bynes, for his part, is slated to start at middle linebacker, but he’s been primarily a special-teamer during his career and made just one start in 2017. Hodges, therefore, could conceivably earn more snaps in the middle if Bynes struggles early in the 2018 season.
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