The Arizona Cardinals announced yesterday that guard Mike Iupati will need arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out for 6-8 weeks. Cardinal fans are going to have to wait a while if they were planning on seeing any extended play time out of new guard.
This is a big blow to a team that has been searching for continuity along the offensive line. Iupati was expected to be the starting left guard to bring along a veteran presence and physicality. Iupati is known for his powerful run blocking.
A first round draft pick for the San Francisco 49ers Iupati started 75 games and was a mainstay when healthy. According to Pro Football Focus he graded positively, in the run game, every year in the league while he struggled at times in pass protection. He wasn’t plagued with injuries but he did seem to come up limp at times due to various things. Most of the time he was able to play through showing his toughness.
His last injury, that caused him to miss major time, was a broken ankle in the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks two seasons ago. It was a goal line play where he got rolled up on and broke it very badly.
Still the Cardinals were willing to take the risk on him in the hopes of bolstering an interior line that struggle horribly in the run game. They paid a very pretty penny to get his services and it might have an early effect. While its highly unlikely he misses the full season, Iupati is fully guaranteed $1.5 million in base salary along with a $6 million signing bonus and a $4 million roster bonus he has already received. Without playing in a real game, and no certain sense when his first one will be, he has made $11.5 million. His 2015 cap hit is around $6.7 million.
My guess is that early on Earl Watford may be the one that gets early looks in the starting role. The Cardinals have him listed behind Iupati on the preseason depth chart. News was that he was going to get a good number of reps with Jonathan Cooper not dressing out due to a toe injury but this may change things.
It would be a good thing to keep a close eye on who plays where early on Saturday against the Vikings.