The Arizona Cardinals already know that All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins won't be available for the upcoming "Monday Night Football" wild-card playoff game at the Los Angeles Rams because of the knee injury that's already cost him a month of action but are holding out hope that star pass-rusher J.J. Watt will make his return to the defensive rotation following the weekend.
Watt hasn't played since he suffered a shoulder injury on Oct. 24 that required him to go under the knife for what was thought, at the time, to be a season-ending procedure, but it was learned earlier this week he would be back on the practice field Thursday to help determine where he's at in his recovery ahead of the postseason.
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn't sound all that optimistic when he told reporters Thursday the three-time Defensive Player of the Year got in only a "very limited" practice session.
"We wanted to get him back out doing some functional football exercises, and that was the step today," Kingsbury added, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk.
The good news for Arizona fans is that Kingsbury and company have an extra day to evaluate Watt thanks to the schedule, and also that this isn't the veteran's first figurative rodeo. Watt is a 32-year-old future Hall of Famer who, theoretically, could participate in at least a handful of plays Monday night coming off several walkthroughs and some conditioning work, assuming he's cleared for meaningful contact by then.