A day after the Arizona Cardinals saw their season end in lackluster fashion with a defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17, head coach Kliff Kingsbury was asked about the health status of the team. More specifically, he was prodded about the injury seriousness of anyone on the roster and the potential remedies heading into the offseason.
"Kliff, now that it's over, can you give us a rundown on how bad (quarterback) Kyler (Murray's) ankle and leg were and if anyone else, or anyone, will need surgery after the season," a reporter asked Kingsbury.
The response was a 45-word answer that focused on Murray, who was injured in the first quarter in the loss to the Rams and did not reappear until the fourth quarter. Kingsbury neglected the second part of the question, which prompted a follow-up.
"Does anyone else needs surgery though?" Kingsbury was asked.
After a pause, the second-year NFL head coach gave a three-word retort.
"Nobody after yesterday," he said at the time.
While in the immediate term that may have been true — Murray nor any other Cardinals player sustained an injury requiring surgical repair against the Rams — Kingsbury seemingly withheld information outside of that one game purposefully. Why is anyone's guess.
The season had already been completed. There was nothing to be gained from not disclosing that information. For a season-recapping press conference that lasted 8:02 from the beginning of the first question to the end of Kingsbury's final answer, there was not much gained at all.
Then, on Jan. 12, eight days after Kingsbury last spoke to the media, Cardinals outside linebacker Dennis Gardeck took to Instagram to announce the beginning of his "road to recovery" from an ACL injury suffered in Week 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I appreciate all the well wishes, your support doesn’t go unnoticed!" Gardeck wrote. "The road to recovery begins tomorrow with ACL reconstruction. I’ll be back and better than ever in 2021, believe it!"
Gardeck was carted off the field after sustaining the injury in what was the Cardinals last win of the season — he had two sacks on 25 defensive snaps played before getting hurt. The Cardinals placed the special-teams captain on season-ending reserve/injured on Christmas day, but Kingsbury was concise even then in updating Gardeck's exact status.
"I'm not going to get into the weeds on that deal," Kingsbury said when directly asked if Gardeck tore his ACL. "That would be for (trainer) Tom Reed and his staff.
"We were kind of exploring every option to try and get him out there and doesn't appear like it's going to work out so he'll be put on IR for the remainder of the season."
With one mystery solved, there is still much to dissect in projecting how the Cardinals will look in 2021, as well as the overall health status of those who ended the year on reserve/injured.
That list includes: Cornerbacks Robert Alford (pectoral) and Johnathan Joseph (neck); defensive linemen Jordan Phillips (hamstring) and Corey Peters (knee); kicker Zane Gonzalez (back); and outside linebackers Isaiah Irving (neck), Kylie Fitts (hand), Gardeck (knee) and Chandler Jones (biceps).