The Arizona Cardinals lost more than just a preseason game Saturday night. Two starters were hit with critical injuries that could end their seasons. Outside linebacker Chike Okeafor has a torn left biceps muscle, and offensive right tackle Oliver Ross has torn left triceps, according to a club official. Both players underwent MRI exams Sunday, which showed the tears. Both players are going to seek second opinions; if surgery is necessary, they will miss the entire regular season.
Okeafor, who played the strong side, is a vital part for the defensive system this year. Because of his versatility, he was moved from defensive end to outside linebacker in the 3-4 formation. He is a double-digit sack guy, who displays intensity and quickness in getting to the QB.Okeafor’s backup, Darryl Blackstock (Virginia), hasn’t played up to his skill level and standards since being drafted in the third round two years ago.
The team could move Calvin Pace or Joe Tafoya from weak outside linebacker to try to make up for Okeafor’s loss. Arizona could play musical chairs with their linebackers. Starting 3rd round rookie LB Buster Davis, (Florida State) a stout run defender at 246 pounds, and move standout, team leader Karlos Dansby back to his orginial outside position at linebacker, having Davis take his place inside.Ross was starting at right tackle but was in for a battle with Penn State rookie Levi Brown for the starting spot, the fifth-overall pick in the NFL draft. Brown now will move into the starting lineup, but if Ross is gone for the season the Cardinals would be weak at the position. The top backup would be Brandon Gorin, who has not played well as a starter.