TEMPE, Ariz. – There was good news Monday at Cardinals practice.
None of the other injuries the team sustained on Saturday against San Diego is expected to be long term, and left guard Jonathan Cooper has a chance to return this season from a broken left fibula.
Cooper underwent successful surgery on Sunday and is likely to be placed on the NFL’s injured reserve/designated for return list, meaning he would be eligible to return this season. Players on that list must sit out six weeks before resuming practice, and eight weeks before resuming play, but Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Monday that Cooper would not likely be ready to return until Week 12.
Arians guessed that the earliest Cooper could return would be with about six games left. Whether the Cardinals will be in contention for a playoff spot by then remains to be seen, but Arians had a reason for wanting to bring Cooper back after 10-12 weeks, even if it seems risky to outsiders.
“We don’t want him to be a rookie again next year,” Arians said, noting how Steelers rookie lineman David DeCastro sustained a torn MCL during the Steelers’ third preseason game in 2012, yet returned to start the final three games.
With Cooper out, Arians announced that left guard Daryn Colledge will move back to his long-time position at left guard, while Paul Fanaika, who played collegiately at Arizona State, will be given the first crack to win the right guard spot, with Chilo Rachal also a possibility. Arians has not considered moving tackles Nate Potter or Bobby Massie inside.
“It’s very unfortunate circumstances that gave me this opportunity, but injuries are part of the game,” said Fanaika, who has played in only three games in four seasons as a pro. “This is what I’ve been training for. Being presented with the right opportunity was important, but also you also have to show what you can do.”
Arians admitted the Cardinals will lose athleticism with Cooper out, but he thinks Colledge and Fanaika will be every bit as physical.
MORE COMINGS AND GOINGS
The team reduced its roster to the requisite 75 on Tuesday by releasing tight end Mickey Shuler and safety Javon Harris while signing tight end Richard Quinn, who was recently released by Cincinnati.
Tight end Rob Housler has what Arians called a “low high-ankle sprain,” and is listed as day-to-day. High ankle sprains can linger longer than normal ankle sprains, and Housler expressed surprise at the extent of his injury after saying Saturday night that he didn’t think it was serious, but he still hopes to play in the season opener Sept. 8 in St. Louis.
“We’ll wait to see how it pans out in the next few days,” he said.
Nose tackle Dan Williams described his injury as a minor ankle sprain (the same ankle he injured earlier in camp) and said he is day to day. Running back Rashard Mendenhall (knee sprain), and TE D.C. Jefferson (knee sprain) also did not practice Monday. WR Andre Roberts (quad bruise), TE Jeff King (knee) and LB Matt Shaughnessy (ankle) participated.
Arians said the decision to cut kicker Dan Carpenter after a half week with the club was based on performance in his one day of practice and on Saturday’s game in which Carpenter had a low field goal attempt blocked — his only attempt of the game.
“The times we saw him kick (we) didn’t feel like it was the direction we wanted to head,” Arians said.
Arians was asked if he would be in favor of an 18-game NFL season, an idea which has been floated by the owners and commissioner Roger Goodell.
“Personally no. Not unless you have 60-65 guys active,” he said, noting the high number of injuries that decimate NFL rosters. “With a 53-man roster I don’t know who the heck is going to play those last two. It’s bad enough trying to play January now.
– The starters will probably play Thursday in Denver, but not much. Arians still hasn’t decided whether QB Carson Palmer will play.
– RB Ryan Williams will get the bulk of the work against the Broncos. Arians would not comment on a report that the Cardinals are shopping Williams. “I’m shopping him as far as getting me some groceries,” Arians said, smiling. Given his injury history, its unlikely the Cards could secure anything more than a late-round pick for Williams.