When the Arizona Cardinals defense takes the field today against the Detroit Lions, All-Pro and Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker will be out with his teammates. But he will do so playing through a thumb injury that figures to take him off the field in the next week.
The NFL's highest-paid safety, Baker is playing through a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb, sources say, an ailment that requires surgery. Essentially, it's the Drew Brees injury from last year.
Baker's plan, sources say, is to play today at home, then have surgery this week. While Brees was out six weeks, Baker hopes to miss just one game. His 2-0 team plays Detroit today, then travels to the winless Carolina Panthers the following week.
That figures to be the game Baker will miss after surgery.
Then, the Cardinals play the Jets, Cowboys, then Seahawks before a bye. If Baker does have to miss two games, he's likely back with a brace or a cast against the much more stout Dallas and Seattle teams.
Baker signed a four-year, $59 million contract before the season. He has drawn endless praise from head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who described him as "one of those lions when he's out on that field."
He had 15 tackles in the opening win over the 49ers and then five tackles against Washington, while likely battling the UCL tear in his thumb.
Baker will fix it this week.