2:48pm: This will end up being Arizona’s course of action. Conner is headed to IR, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. Conner cannot be activated until Week 10; the Cardinals’ bye does not arrive until Week 14. Although injuries have sidelined Conner regularly, he has not been on IR since his 2017 rookie season.
2:31pm: A central cog in what has been a surprisingly effective Cardinals offense, James Conner will be shut down for a bit. The Cardinals are expected to be without their starting running back for multiple games, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
Conner sustained a knee injury in Arizona’s Week 5 loss to Cincinnati. With the Cardinals already without backup Keaontay Ingram due to a neck injury the second-year player sustained, they are starting to make other plans. The exact injury Conner sustained is unknown, but Schefter adds an IR stint is in play. Jonathan Gannon also said during an appearance on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo this week Conner could miss “a little bit” of time.
Rewarding the Cardinals after their decision to extend an offer in free agency two years ago, Conner has continued to battle injuries with his second NFL team. The former Steelers third-round pick missed four games last season and was down for two games during his pivotal 2021 campaign. The cancer survivor also missed 14 games during his four-year Pittsburgh career. This will deliver a blow to the Cardinals’ backfield, which Conner has effectively led since 2021.
Although Chase Edmonds operated as Arizona’s nominal starter that year, Conner broke through with 18 touchdowns. The Cards then re-signed him to a three-year, $21MM deal. Conner, 28, enjoyed good timing by hitting free agency in 2022. He and Leonard Fournette scored matching accords. But the Buccaneers bailed on Fournette’s $7MM-per-year pact this offseason; he remains unsigned. While several developments dinged the RB market in the spring and summer, Conner stayed on his Cards contract. His ability to come back from this injury will certainly impact if the organization keeps him on that deal in 2024.
The former Le’Veon Bell Steelers successor’s 18-TD season came on just a 3.7-yard rushing average. Last year, Conner’s YPC checked in at 4.3. Through five games this year — behind a Cardinals O-line that generated a number of questions at the season’s outset — Conner is at 5.4. Next Gen Stats’ rush yards over expected metric places Conner 10th. The Cards’ Josh Dobbs-directed offense has enjoyed 364 Conner rushing yards this season.
Ingram’s neck injury has cost him the past two games, but the 2022 sixth-rounder is not on IR. The Cardinals claimed Tony Jones Jr. off waivers from the Saints on Monday, and they have Damien Williams stashed on their practice squad. When Conner went down, rookie UDFA Emari Demercado became the next man up. Kendre Miller‘s former TCU backup totaled 57 scrimmage yards and a touchdown against the Bengals.