Arizona Cardinals: NFL Injury Wire

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Four Arizona Cardinals are not expected to play Sunday night against Cincinnati, among them safety Tyrann Mathieu.

Mathieu returned to practice Wednesday after spending about 8.5 months recovering from ACL and LCL surgery. On Friday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he would evaluate Mathieu's chances of playing on Saturday.

The other Cardinals not expected to play were inside linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral), guard Jonathan Cooper (toe) and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu.

Ta'amu, who tore his ACL in Week 17 last year, also returned to practice Wednesday.

Minter was on the field about two hours before kickoff going through a series of running drills with Arizona strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris. Linebacker Kenny Demens will fill in for Minter. Cooper will miss his second straight preseason game and is expected to be replaced in the starting lineup by Ted Larsen.

One name not on the list was outside linebacker John Abraham, who reported to training camp on Aug. 14.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cardinals guard Jonathan Cooper doesn’t think his turf toe will be fully healthy this season.

Speaking after the Cardinals’ last training camp practice, the 2013 first-round pick said his toe needs “a little time” to finish healing but that may not happen until the season is over.

“I think it’s going to linger regardless,” Cooper said. “It’s just going to be one of those things where there’s going to be some aspect of it that I’m going to feel. Just have to play through it.”

At times, the toe is painful, Cooper said, especially when he executes certain movements. He wouldn’t elaborate on which movements spark the pain, however.

“You kinda hit it just right, and it doesn’t feel very good,” he said. “I’ll be alright.”

After hurting his toe in the first preseason game, Cooper has missed practice since Aug. 11. He returned this camp from a broken leg he suffered last preseason that caused him to miss all of 2013, but Cooper has struggled to overcome some of the mental and physical hurdles that accompany coming back from an injury.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Friday that Cooper will need to play in either Sunday night’s all-important third preseason game or Thursday’s preseason finale in order to be considered for playing time in Week 1 on “Monday Night Football.”

The seventh-overall pick in 2013 understands how essential it is to get game reps before the regular season.

“It’s very important to me, just the moral boost and just to get things rolling into the season, just to kinda build up the confidence, get the reps and get against some live competition again,” he said. “I had to sit out the last game so I would love to get the reps and build that confidence rolling into the season."

To get to that point, Cooper said he’ll have to manage the main so he can be a “functional” player on the field.

“You’re not going to be able to please everybody and continue to work and improve,” Cooper said. “I’ll get healthy at some point and be the player I know I can be.”

All Cardinals ready to play vs. 49ers

December, 27, 2013
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TEMPE, Ariz. – If there is one game all season anyone on the Arizona Cardinals’ roster didn’t want to miss, this is it.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said “basically” everybody practiced Friday leading up to Sunday’s game against San Francisco. Linebacker John Abraham (groin), guard Daryn Colledge (back) and safety Rashad Johnson (ankle) were all limited Friday and are listed as questionable.

Everyone else practiced in full and is probable, including quarterback Carson Palmer (ankle and elbow), linebacker Daryl Washington (ankle), defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (shoulder) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (finger).

“It looks like we’ll be full-go and ready to play,” Arians said. “It’s a big game. It’s fun to have the last one count. That’s what we wanted all year, for this game to matter and it matters.”
TEMPE, Ariz. – The NFL’s active leader in sacks may be stuck at 133.5 until next season.

Arizona Cardinals linebacker John Abraham will be a game-time decision because of a groin injury that has sidelined him from practice this week, coach Bruce Arians said.

Abraham
“It’s pretty sore,” Arians added.

While Abraham may be out, Arizona could get back safety Rashad Johnson from a high-ankle sprain he suffered against Tennessee. Johnson practiced Thursday for the first time in two weeks and “did very well,” Arians said.

Backup quarterback Drew Stanton practiced in full but was added to the injury list because of a knee issue. Linebacker Daryl Washington was also added to the injury report with an ankle injury.

Guard Daryn Colledge (back), Johnson and Washington were limited.

Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (shoulder), tight end Rob Housler (groin), running back Rashard Mendenhall (finger), quarterback Carson Palmer (right elbow/ankle), tackle/guard Nate Potter (ribs) and linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (groin) were upgraded from limited to full.
TEMPE, Ariz. – Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer watched his two backups run through their drills during the open portion of Arizona’s practice Wednesday without a helmet or shoulder pads.

Palmer
The 33-year-old said his left ankle, which he sprained Sunday at Tennessee, feels good and Palmer expects to be practicing again Thursday and Friday.

“Got a lot of treatment on it and [I will] be ready to roll,” Palmer said.

Palmer isn’t a stranger to not practicing. Heading into the St. Louis game in Week 14, Palmer didn’t take a single snap all week because of a sore elbow. The mental reps, alone, prepared him for the Rams’ defense. A sprained ankle, however, is different because it impacts Palmer’s mobility, which he’ll need against Seattle’s top-ranked defense.

The first-quarter hit on Palmer that sprained his ankle looked worse than it actually was. He stood up holding his legs and limping but after Arizona scored a touchdown on the next play, Palmer went to the sideline and got his ankle wrapped.

“I knew that he got a good shot on me and it probably tweaked my ankle a little bit,” Palmer said. “I didn’t think anything more than that or less than that.”

Besides Palmer, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, tight end Rob Housler and safety Rashad Johnson did not practice Wednesday.

Fitzgerald is still following protocol, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. The next step is for Fitzgerald to begin exercising.

“He’s fine so far with what he’s been doing,” Arians said.

Fitzgerald saw the doctor assigned to the Cardinals on Monday and then went for a second, independent opinion on Tuesday. He has to pass the NFL’s mandatory concussion protocol before he’ll be allowed to play.

Housler and Johnson were on the stationary bike for the open portion of practice.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was ruled out of Wednesday's practice because of a concussion he suffered against the Tennessee Titans, Arizona coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday on his weekly appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald
“He still has to pass the protocol,” Arians said. “We're waiting to make sure. They're not going to take any chances with him right now. He'll be fine, I think, by game time, but he still has to pass the second part once he gets activity.”

Fitzgerald suffered the head injury during an onside kick late in the fourth quarter of Arizona's 37-34 overtime win. He told Westwood One Radio on Monday that he didn't remember getting hit.

Fitzgerald also said he was seeing a second independent neurologist on Tuesday, a day after he had a positive test with another neurologist.

Arizona plays at Seattle on Sunday.

Ballard to start in place of Housler

December, 15, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- This may be the chance Jake Ballard needed.

As has been a trend around the Cardinals this season, another player will have an opportunity to see the field because of an injury to a teammate. Ballard will start Sunday against the Tennessee Titans because tight end Rob Housler was ruled inactive because of a groin injury.

Ballard has played 67 snaps this season, an average of about 13.5 per game. Although he was signed in early November, Ballard has been waiting for an opportunity to showcase his rebuilt knee. During his five games, Ballard has caught just two passes for 44 yards and has been used – when he does play – in primarily a blocking role.

Without Housler, however, the tight end passing game won’t be as potent. Housler had the speed and athleticism to spread the field off the line. And while Jim Dray is more of a short-pass option, Ballard does have some speed to get away from defenders. His 29-yard catch against Indianapolis showcased how well his knee, which he blew out in Super Bowl XLVI and missed all of last season because of, has recovered.
TEMPE, Ariz. – Carson Palmer has looked over to the sidelines before, seen a teammate not practicing and instantly became jealous.

Palmer
Everyone wants a day off.

Last week, he had three and didn’t like a single minute of it.

“[It’s] completely different, kind of eerie,” Palmer said of not throwing a pass in practice leading up to the St. Louis game because of a sore throwing elbow. “I didn’t enjoy it. It’s not enjoyable.

“When you are practicing, you are always looking at the guys that aren’t practicing and you are jealous. But then, when you are the guy standing on the sidelines, you want to actually be out there. You kind of get stuck in that, ‘Well, I wish I wasn’t, but I wish I was.”

It was the first time Palmer had missed a week of practice in his career and if he and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had their way, it’ll be the last time. During the open portion of practice Wednesday, Palmer threw a few soft passes but was limited, despite him saying his arm is “better.”

Arians will "monitor” Palmer this week but wants the quarterback to start throwing again. As to what’s exactly wrong, Arians said Monday he wasn’t quite sure of the specific terminology and simply called it a “sore elbow.”

He admitted Monday he was skeptical when Palmer didn’t take any live reps, but the quarterback used mental reps to get ready.

“Having not been around a guy, yeah, I was very curious to see how it was going to affect him,” Arians said.

Clearly it didn't and not practicing may have actually had its benefits. Palmer finished Sunday’s 30-10 win over the Rams with the highest completion percentage of his career, 84.38 percent, narrowly topping his performance in Week 11 of the 2007 season, 84.21 percent.

Palmer doesn’t want to make a habit out of not practicing and then putting up gaudy numbers. He likes the everyday routine that only quarterbacks go through.

“Seven-on-seven, routes on air, all those things are enjoyable for a quarterback,” Palmer said. “It’s a lot different if you are the left guard and putting on a helmet and shoulder pads because you actually need to use them. I enjoy practice."

Arians believes rest this late in the season can help a quarterback -- and it apparently has -- but Palmer said he’s ready to get back under center again.

“Missing practice is a big deal for a quarterback,” Palmer said. “I enjoy practice. It’s fun. I don’t have to hit anybody. I don’t have to tackle anybody. Hand the ball off a couple times, throw the ball around. I don’t enjoy missing practice but I’m going to go out and do a little more than I did last week.”

Cardinals losing rookies at high rate

December, 10, 2013
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Losing rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu for the season wasn't just a blow to the Arizona Cardinals' secondary, it's a continued decimation of the Cards' 2013 draft class.

Mathieu is Arizona's fourth drafted rookie to suffer a season-ending injury this season, following guard Jonathan Cooper in the preseason and linebacker Alex Okafor in Week 3. Wide receiver Ryan Swope was forced to retire after suffering a concussion during minicamp. Arizona only has four draft picks on its active roster after releasing tight end D.C. Jefferson, a seventh-round pick, in early November.

The Cardinals' four injured draft picks are tied for most in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans this season.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was concerned another rookie was about to be sidelined two weeks ago when rookie running back Andre Ellington, Arizona's second sixth-round pick, tweaked his left knee leading up to the Eagles game on Dec. 1. Arians thought Ellington, who was sidelined for the game, had hurt his ACL. But it turned out to be not nearly that bad as Ellington played Sunday against the Rams.

Arians doesn't expect Mathieu to return by training camp next year, but the other rookies, Cooper and Okafor, are slated to be healthy by July.

“It definitely has got us,” the coach said. “We got lucky with Andre Ellington.

“But, yeah, with Swope and Coop and the rest of them, it's a shame because we really needed them.”

TEMPE, Ariz. – As much as Andre Ellington missing Sunday’s game hurt the Arizona Cardinals, it benefited the rookie running back.

Ellington
He missed practice Wednesday and is day-to-day for the rest of the week. But the soreness in his left knee is gone, and Ellington expects to play Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

“I think by me missing that game kinda helped me out a little bit,” Ellington said. “I feel pretty good where I’m at right now.”

Ellington was running a route during last Thursday’s practice when he felt something in his left knee and pulled up untouched. He was a game-time decision in Philadelphia, but coach Bruce Arians didn't want to risk any further injury.

On Monday, Arians said he didn’t want to rush Ellington back too early because he’s “too young and too valuable.” Ellington is willing to play whenever he needs to, but the rookie also understands why Arians is holding him out.

“I mean, just whatever he says. He’s the head coach,” Ellington said. “He calls the shots. When I’m ready, I’m gonna be ready. When I’m out there I’m going to make plays.”

Ellington inactive against Eagles

December, 1, 2013
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PHILADELPHIA -- Arizona Cardinals rookie running back Andre Ellington is inactive for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the team announced.

Ellington
Ellington tweaked his left knee late in Thursday’s practice and anticipated playing when he met with the media on Friday. He missed practice Friday and was planning on resting the knee Saturday before going through a pregame workout Sunday.

Without Ellington, Rashard Mendenhall will absorb the majority of the carries with rookie Stepfan Taylor and Alfonso Smith filling in as his backups. Taylor will take over Ellington’s role on third-down runs but it’s likely that none of the backs will line up as a receiver like Ellington did.

On Friday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said if Ellington couldn’t play, Arizona will just remove a small package from the game plan.

The last time Arizona was down a running back, in Week 8 against Atlanta when Mendenhall sat out, Arians split the carries between Ellington (15) and Taylor (14). That’s unlikely to happen with Mendenhall this week because, now that he’s healthy, he’s showing speed not seen from him since training camp.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cardinals rookie running back Andre Ellington will be a game-time decision Sunday in Philadelphia, Arizona coach Bruce Arians said.

Ellington
Ellington did not practice Friday, a day after "tweaking" his left knee late in Thursday's practice. He was listed as questionable on the injury report.

"Nothing serious about it," Arians said. "I want to be very careful with him."

Ellington said the knee is sore but he feels he'll be able to play.

"I'm hoping," he said. "I'll see how it goes. We have two days before the game. That's a lot of rest, two days. We'll continue to rehab and get to Sunday and kinda get out there and run around."

The former Clemson star is averaging 40.1 yards per game and has two touchdowns. He's emerged as a fast complement to starter Rashard Mendenhall, with breakaway speed he put on display during an 80-yard touchdown run against the Falcons. His elusiveness has helped him average six yards a carry, which leads the NFL among players with at least 70 carries.

Arians also uses Ellington as a receiver and the rookie is averaging 22.5 yards per game and about 8.8 yards per reception.

Without Ellington, the Cardinals' running will become a one-man band. Mendenhall will be given the large majority of the carries, with rookie Stepfan Taylor and potentially Alfonso Smith used to spell him on occasion. But Ellington has provided a change-of-pace rushing attack that has made it tough for defenses to combat this season. Until last week, Mendenhall was used primarily as the between-the-tackles carrier while Ellington was quick enough to bounce outside.

Then, against the Colts, Mendenhall broke free for Ellington-esque runs, giving the Cardinals hope that his speed is back full-time. That performance alone could be enough to quell Arians concerns for not having a one-two punch.

But if Ellington can't go, the Cardinals will have to make changes to their offense.

"The only thing is there's part of the offense that no one else can do [for] five or six plays," Arians said. "That, you just take out.

"Other than that just keep on rolling."

Bethel questionable despite symptoms

November, 22, 2013
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Even though he’s cleared to play, Arizona Cardinals gunner Justin Bethel is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, coach Bruce Arians said.

Bethel
“He’s much, much better,” Arians said. “He’ll be a game-time decision.”

Bethel missed Thursday’s practice because of “a little headache” but was back on the field Friday. He’s still experiencing symptoms from the concussion he suffered against Jacksonville.

If Bethel can’t play Sunday, a committee of about four players will fill his roles on special teams. Based on who has played gunner earlier this season, among the committee will be Jaron Brown and Antoine Cason. Brittan Golden could also be used if he’s active Sunday. He’s back at 100 percent from a hamstring injury that’s hampered him for more than a month.

Golden, who practiced at gunner on Friday, is also questionable.

Recently re-acquired Bryan McCann, who the Cardinals signed this week to replace Teddy Williams, will be one gunner, Arians said.

“Looks great, like he never missed a beat,” he said. “He was probably our second-best gunner and special teams player in training camp.”

Bethel clears protocol, plans to play

November, 20, 2013
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TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona Cardinals gunner Justin Bethel has passed the league's concussion protocol, and he expects to play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

“Yeah, that’s the plan,” Bethel said. “That’s my plan to play.”

Passing the concussion test was Bethel’s biggest hurdle to returning to the field. He was limited in practice Wednesday.

Bethel
“We’ll take it very easy with him,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.

Bethel left last weekend’s game against Jacksonville after a vicious hit left him staggering. After finally getting to his feet, he had to take a knee again and eventually be helped off the field.

The second-year gunner, who Arians has said may be the best special-teams player in the NFL, said he didn’t know how bad the concussion was, but he was feeling better Wednesday.

“Just going to go out there and try to get better every day, do what I can,” Bethel said. “And just try to get ready for Sunday.”

Without Bethel, the Cardinals' punt-return unit would be in trouble. In the third quarter against the Jaguars, fellow gunner Teddy Williams was lost for the season with an Achilles injury. In Williams' place, the Cardinals signed Bryan McCann, who is expected to assume the gunner duties. But if Bethel can't return Sunday, the Cardinals' ability to flip the field won't be as strong as it has been and the defense will face more pressure to keep opponents from working in short fields.

Quarterback Carson Palmer was listed on the Cardinals’ injury report with a hand injury, but he practiced fully. The only Cardinal not to practice was center/guard Mike Gibson. Linebacker John Abraham (hamstring) and wide receivers Michael Floyd (shoulder) and Brittan Golden were limited.

Arians said Floyd’s right shoulder, in which he suffered a sprained AC joint against Houston, was sore. The coach also described Golden as at “about 90 percent,” an estimation the receiver agreed with.

“He’s still finding that last gear,” Arians said. “I think it’s more scar tissue than it is injury at this point in time. We hope to get him back soon.”

WR Floyd questionable but will play

November, 15, 2013
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd is expecting to play a full role against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he said Friday.

Floyd
Floyd was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with a sprained A/C joint in his right shoulder but he practiced Thursday and Friday.

“Michael should be ready to go,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “(He) looks pretty solid.”

Arians won’t limit Floyd’s snaps, saying “if you’re good to go, you’re good to go.” Floyd seconded his coach, saying he'll be playing at full tilt.

“If I was going to hold anything back, I probably wouldn’t play,” Floyd said.

During the open portion of practice Friday, Floyd was catching passes above his shoulders with full extension.

With Floyd in the lineup, Andre Roberts may be relegated to the role he’s been playing for the past few games. He stepped up when Floyd went down and will be on alert should Floyd not be able to play at full strength, but Roberts will be the odd man out.

When Larry Fitzgerald played with an injured hamstring, he didn’t perform to the level he’s accustomed to. The same fate might be awaiting Floyd.

But Floyd wasn’t about to pull himself out of Sunday’s game because of his shoulder.

“I felt if my shoulder was going in a positive way I would play,” Floyd said. “I never said to myself that I’m ruling myself out. There’s a whole week to get treatment (so) no I didn’t think that.”

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