The Arizona Cardinals spent a second round draft pick on two-way tight end Troy Niklas in the 2014 NFL Draft so they could potentially have an upgrade at the position. They may have to wait a while to see if that’s what indeed got.
According to reports, the former Notre Dame star sustained a broken hand during OTAs last week and will sit out until training camp.
Niklas was viewed as an upgrade over Arizona’s current crop of tight ends – specifically last year’s main starter, Rob Housler. With superior blocking ability and just as much size and athleticism, Niklas looked to offer that two-way versatility the Cardinals had previously been lacking.
The hand injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. With Niklas shelved for at least the next month with a broken hand, his absence likely forces the Cardinals to hold onto Housler, a guy they may have just decided to part ways with had Niklas been 100% healthy and ready to take over the starting gig.
With Niklas on the shelf, the recently signed John Carlson also could creep into a role within the offense. That may have ended up happening anyways, but Carlson will now for sure get a longer look in an expanded role with Niklas unable to show what he can do.
While the injury is clearly a downer in terms of Niklas gaining an edge on Housler and Carlson, it also may be a blessing in disguise. After all, Niklas was still rehabbing a sports hernia surgery. He was close to full health and practicing, but the extra time off with the hand injury should alleviate any concerns of causing more issues with that recovery process.
Niklas still remains the top candidate to open the season as Arizona’s top tight end and with the next month off, should enter 2014 at 100% health. That’s bad news for Housler in the long-term.