All along, Cardinals coach Dennis Green espoused optimism about offensive lineman Alex Stepanovich’s return from a shoulder injury, and Monday even said Stepanovich would not need surgery.
Tuesday, the Cards placed Stepanovich on injured reserve, ending his season, and announced Stepanovich will have to undergo surgery later this week.
Linebacker Isaac Keys was re-signed for a third time this season to take Stepanovich’s roster spot.
Stepanovich, who went into training camp as the team’s returning starting center, got off to a slow start when he broke his hand in the team’s non-contact intrasquad mock game. That injury sidelined Stepanovich through the rest of camp and the first game of the regular season.
Once he returned to center, he had an uneven season before injuries to others forced a move to guard in the eighth game. Stepanovich then hurt his shoulder in St. Louis against the Rams and never returned to the field.
The Cards, with Jeremy Bridges (ankle) and Elton Brown (knee) still ailing, will likely have to use Fred Wakefield and Adam Haayer — both of whom Green acknowledges are better as tackles — as their starting guards for a third straight game Sunday against Washington.