Cardinals' Budda Baker Taken to Hospital after Suffering Concussion vs. Rams

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 18, 2022

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker drops into pass coverage during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
AP Photo/Roger Steinman

Arizona Cardinals free safety Budda Baker was taken to the hospital for further evaluation after suffering a concussion in the NFC Wild Card Game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Cardinals SVP of Media Relations Mark Dalton provided the update, saying Baker was alert and communicative and never lost movement or feeling in his extremities.

Baker was stretchered off the field after a collision with Rams running back Cam Akers.

ESPN @espn

Budda Baker was tended to on the field after this scary collision with Cam Akers.<br><br>He was stretchered off the field πŸ™ <a href="https://t.co/W6EmzaHAEw">pic.twitter.com/W6EmzaHAEw</a>

Baker was seen raising his right arm as he was taken off the field.

Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters after the game, which the Rams won 34-11, that he had received "positive news" about Baker's status.

"He had feeling and everything, he's at the hospital being examined now," Kingsbury said, per Grant Gordon of NFL.com. 

Akers, who was on the opposite end of the collision, took to social media after the game to send his best wishes to Baker, noting he was not initially aware that the Cardinals safety had been injured on the play:

Cam akers @thereal_cam3

Prays up to Budda πŸ™πŸΎ . I didn’t know he was hurt after the play but I have nothing but respect for him .

Baker also received more well-wishes on social media:

Arizona Cardinals @AZCardinals

Praying insanely hard for you, <a href="https://twitter.com/buddabaker32?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@buddabaker32</a>. πŸ™

Los Angeles Rams @RamsNFL

Prayers up for Budda Baker. πŸ™

Michael Thomas @Cantguardmike

Damn Budda πŸ™πŸΎ <a href="https://twitter.com/buddabaker32?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@buddabaker32</a>

During the 2021 campaign, Baker put up 98 total tackles and three interceptions.

Despite already having a strong secondary, the Cardinals jumped at the chance to select Baker with the No. 36 overall pick in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft.

Baker was viewed as a borderline first-round prospect after putting together three consecutive productive seasons at the collegiate level for the Washington Huskies.

He appeared in all 16 games for the Cards as a rookie, making seven starts.

Baker finished his debut season with 58 tackles, seven passes defended, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one sack en route to a Pro Bowl nod. After a solid debut, Baker took a big step forward in 2018 and finished with 102 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Baker's quick ascent continued last season, as he recorded 147 tackles, six passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Baker was rewarded with his second career Pro Bowl selection for his efforts.

He followed that up with another big year in 2020, racking up 118 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and six passes defended en route to his third Pro Bowl and second First Team All-Pro selection.

His status as a do-everything guy worked well for the Cardinals since they have brought in several similar players on the defensive side of the ball in recent years.

Chief among them is Tyrann Mathieu, who has played for the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs since getting released by the Cards.

The year after selecting Mathieu, the Cardinals drafted Deone Bucannon as a safety. They converted him to linebacker, and he developed into one of the team's most vital players before parting ways with the organization.

Arizona chose Baker in hopes he'd become a movable chess piece on the defense as well, but the team may need to put his progression on hold.

Baker's potential absence looms large due to a lack of proven options in backup roles. Jalen Thompson will continue as the starting strong safety, while Deionte Thompson, Chris Banjo and rookie seventh-round pick James Wiggins are the likeliest candidates to replace Baker.