GLENDALE, Ariz. – Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall has patellar tendinitis in his surgically repaired knee. Coach Bruce Arians said early Saturday that Mendenhall would sit out the team’s Red and White practice and return Monday.
“He could probably go today, but there’s no sense in having it linger,” Arians said.
Mendenhall played just six games last year, in part because he was recovering from a torn ACL in the same knee which he suffered an injury in the final regular-season game the previous year. He insisted, however, that the current problem is not a major concern.
“Overall, I feel great,” he said. “It’s just an aggravation.”
In Mendenhall’s absence, the Cardinals have just three healthy running backs — Alfonso Smith, Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington — in camp since Ryan Williams is still recovering from a flare-up in his surgically repaired right knee.
STATS THAT MATTER
Arians was asked how he rated the importance of turnovers when evaluating his defense’s success.
“Number one,” he said. “Points against and turnovers are the only two things I want to lead the league in. I don’t give a crap about where our defense is ranked, because that’s all yardage. If we lead the league in points and turnovers, we’ve got a heck of a defense.”
With right guard Daryn Colledge out indefinitely with a nerve issue in his leg, former Arizona State player Paul Fanaika has been making his mark as the fill-in starting right guard.
“I keep telling him, ‘When you get an opportunity, you’re either going to get exposed or get exposure,'” said Arians, who insists Fanaika has a strong chance of making the team and challenging Colledge. “He’s done a great job with his exposure. I can’t say enough about what he’s done with his chance.”
Asked why Fanaika, who signed as a tackle, has been able to make a successful transition to guard, Arians said, “You get a guy in a phone booth and all of the sudden the game comes to him. He’s been out in space as a tackle most of his career. Then you put him in a phone booth and he’s a pretty good player.”
Fanaika was out of football last year but said he never lost the belief that he would be back.
“Obviously it’s tough being out of football, but I just kept training, kept on pushing and waited,” he said. “Fortunately, the Arizona Cardinals called me — and when they called me, I came running.”
Fanaika said the position switch really isn’t that big of a deal.
“Playing guard is easier for me because I’m a natural guard. I played guard most of my career,” he said. “In general, it’s just a more physical position. You get to have contact on every play.”
Arians, 60, when asked why he likes having 74-year-old assistant head coach Tom Moore around: “Two things: I look young, and I have somebody who has been there and done it.”
Ryan Williams is getting another treatment on his right knee and hopes to return before the preseason opener against the Packers next weekend, but it’s more likely that he’ll return after that game. Defensive end Everrette Thompson has an arm injury and will miss a day or two. His injury leaves the Cardinals with six healthy defensive linemen in camp.
None of the other injured Cardinals are ready to return to action.