For the second time in two days, the Arizona Cardinals' secondary has taken a hit, with the team announcing on Wednesday morning that Pro Bowl strong safety Adrian Wilson will undergo surgery on his right heel and Achilles tendon, and will be lost for the rest of the season.
Arizona on Tuesday placed starting right cornerback Eric Green on injured reserve with a groin injury suffered in last Sunday's overtime loss to San Francisco. Although the date for Wilson's surgery has yet to be finalized, he will be placed on injured reserve.
"It's hard to replace a player of Adrian's caliber, but we have
some guys we expect to step up and fill that role," coach Ken Whisenhunt
said. "Adrian's been a workhorse. He's frustrated. We all are, but
there's nothing we can do about that. We expect the next guy to
Wilson, 26, missed the past two games because of the heel and Achilles injury. He noted earlier this week that, while his condition was gradually improving, he still didn't feel confident enough in his recovery to push off hard on the foot.
The seven-year veteran traveled to South Florida on Monday to have a second opinion, and orthopedic specialist Dr. John Uribe recommended the surgery. Wilson should be fully recovered in time for the team's offseason program next spring.
Oliver Celestin, who has started the past two games in Wilson's absence, will remain in the lineup. Matt Ware will likely also get some time at strong safety. The normal backup at the strong safety position, Aaron Francisco, has been sidelined recently by a calf injury. Arizona coaches are hopeful that Francisco can return soon.
The loss of Wilson is a devastating one because his versatility allows Cardinals defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast to design creative schemes around his rare combination of skills. The former North Carolina State standout, a third-round choice of the Cardinals in the 2001 draft, is one of the NFL's best blitzers from the safety position, but also possesses good ball skills as a cover defender.
Wilson is also one of the hardest hitting safeties in the league.
In nine games this year, Wilson had 44 tackles, two interceptions and two passes defensed. For his career, he has 544 tackles, 16 interceptions, 53 passes defensed, 16 sacks, and 10 forced fumbles.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.