Rashad Johnson not cleared yet

Updated: September 27, 2013, 4:06 PM ET
By Josh Weinfuss | ESPN.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Less than a week since he lost the tip of his left middle finger during a game, Arizona Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson is questionable for Sunday's matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Johnson said he hasn't been cleared by team doctors but the pain has improved every day. On Friday, he said the pain level was at 4 on a scale of 1-10. On Thursday, he said it was at 6.5.

"I think he can play in a backup role," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "He definitely can play in special teams and do some things for us. His leadership is something I value and I'd like to have him out there."

Johnson practiced Friday wearing a cast around his left hand, but if he plays, doctors will fit him with a different style, Johnson said, one that will be molded around his fist instead of his hand. The finger was throbbing more than usual after practice, Johnson said, but doctors will keep a watchful eye on it during the next two days.

Johnson worked on catching the ball with his body Friday, his only option to snare an interception besides a one-handed snag. But other than that, practice was like normal.

"I was able to move around and do everything I needed to do," Johnson said. "The only thing is just the physical activity on a Friday. Of course there's no pad work.

"It's still just a few more things that we want to look at before I'm 100 percent on it."

Arians It's just a fingertip. It could've been a lot worse. I think he's got a football mentality.

-- Bruce Arians, Cardinals coach,
on Rashad Johnson's status for Sunday

Arians said the scene last Sunday was "just bloody" but the coach has been impressed with Johnson's attitude this week.

"It's just a fingertip," Arians said. "It could've been a lot worse. I think he's got a football mentality."

The injury happened late in the second quarter of the Cardinals' 31-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints on a special-teams play. Johnson was attempting to tackle Darren Sproles and was knocked to the ground.

When Johnson sat up kneeling, he noticed blood was coming out of his left glove. After doctors cut it off, they saw that the left tip was still stuck in the glove. Johnson did not return to the game.

His profile has skyrocketed this week. He's drawn the attention of the national media and has been a topic of discussion throughout the country.

But if he plays Sunday, he'll try to block out everything else and focus on football.

"With the cast and everything the way we plan to do it, [I'm] just going to go out and let it loose and play ball," Johnson said. "Can't really go out and play in fear. That's when you make mistakes and big plays happen. If I'm cleared to play, and I go out and I play, I'm going to play all out the whole time."

Arians said the only two Cardinals who won't play for sure are nose tackle Dan Williams, who will be attending his father's funeral Saturday, and rookie linebacker Kevin Minter (hamstring).

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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