TAMPA, Fla. -- Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson was not cleared by team doctors to play in Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay, according to a tweet by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
About 90 minutes before kickoff, Johnson was listed among the Cardinals’ inactives.
Johnson will miss the game a week after losing the tip of his left middle finger just before halftime against New Orleans. All week, Arizona coach Bruce Arians said the decision on whether Johnson would play would be left up to Johnson, with pain tolerance emerging as the top deciding factor. However, he still needed to be cleared by doctors.
The fact that he wasn’t cleared did not come as a major surprise.
While he had the finger stitched up and the possibility of infection had decreased, he was still a week removed from losing a body part. Throughout the week, Johnson said the pain had improved, rating it a 6.5 out of 10 on Thursday and then a 4 out of 10 on Friday. However, he couldn’t find a cast to fit properly. Team doctors outfitted him Friday with a cast to cover his hand that resembled a boxing glove, but Johnson and Arians said it wasn’t effective.
The next step was to cast him with his hand in a fist, but apparently that wasn’t the solution either.
As much as Johnson wanted to play -- and as much as Arians wanted his leadership and needed him on special teams -- sitting him out this game was the right decision. One wrong hit and that finger could be damaged more. Johnson's replacement in the starting lineup is most likely to be rookie Tyrann Mathieu, which is not a bad option.
Let the finger heal, avoid any infections or setbacks and suit up Johnson for next week against Carolina at home.