Niklas (wrist) was recently deemed healthy during OTAs, Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic reports.
A second-round pick of the 2014 draft, Niklas' career has been derailed by a deluge of injuries. In advance of the event, a sports hernia was discovered at the Combine that required surgery. Then, in just his third spring practice with the Cardinals, he broke a finger in his left hand. After suffering through two severe ankle sprains in the first half of his rookie season, Niklas was mercifully placed on IR, ending his campaign. As a sophomore, he avoided the injury bug, yet he managed just four receptions for 33 yards and two touchdowns across 16 games. To wrap up his professional injury history, Niklas injured his left wrist in Week 3 last season, and a season-ending procedure was promptly ordered up. As he goes through his third full offseason program, he has already been termed one of the Cardinals' starting tight ends (also, Jermaine Gresham) by head coach Bruce Arians, per Kyle Odegard of the team's official site. Whether the role allows Niklas to tap into his potential remains to be seen, but Gresham is the proven commodity among the tight ends, who must perform ably as both pass catchers and blockers in Arians' offense. As a result, Niklas will be hard-pressed to produce consistently as the fifth or sixth option, at best, within the passing attack.
Each team is able to activate one player from injured reserve under new league rules, but the Cardinals are unlikely to do so with Niklas, who is slated for at least four months of rehab on his wrist, according to Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910 Phoenix. In any case, Niklas wasn't making inroads on starting tight end Darren Fells and recorded precisely no yards on his sole catch this season. In a corresponding move, Ifeanyi Momah was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.
Niklas has received a consistent snap count this season, earning between 18 and 24 in the first three games, but he's been contained to blocking duties, as evidenced by one reception on two targets for no yards. If the third-year tight end is sidelined for any length of time, his reps will likely be redistributed between Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham.
Niklas was promoted to first-string offense Tuesday, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports.
Veteran Jermaine Gresham has been unable to dodge the injury bug in training camp, dealing with a hamstring injury early and back tightness of late. Meanwhile, Niklas has jumped to the good side of head coach Bruce Arians, which was likely precipitated by his blocking ability. It likely hasn't hurt that Niklas has so far avoided an ailment in camp for the first time in his two-plus seasons as a professional. If the development is upheld into Week 1, Niklas would serve as a starter in the Cardinals' two-TE alignment.
If Niklas has been lingering on dynasty benches since the Cardinals selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, owners may be able to deploy the hulking tight this season. His first two campaigns weren't friendly from an injury standpoint, but avoiding the bug so far, he's showed off his blocking capability, which is a staple for tight ends within Arians' offense. Niklas has four preseason tilts to move past Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) in the TE pecking order. However, when Niklas received 16 percent of the offensive snaps last year, he had a measly four catches for 33 yards and two touchdowns.
|P3||8/26/17||@ ATL||7:00 pm|
|P4||8/31/17||@ DEN||9:00 pm|
|1||9/10/17||@ DET||1:00 pm|
|2||9/17/17||@ IND||1:00 pm|
|5||10/8/17||@ PHI||1:00 pm|
|7||10/22/17||@ LAR||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 8|
|9||11/5/17||@ SF||4:05 pm|
|11||11/19/17||@ HOU||1:00 pm|
|15||12/17/17||@ WAS||1:00 pm|
|17||12/31/17||@ SEA||4:25 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|