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Optimism For Palmer, Fitzgerald Availability

Posted Dec 18, 2013

Notebook: Jefferson ready to play if Johnson can't; Cards' progress since Seahawks

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer had his left ankle taped and played the whole game after spraining it early in the game against the Titans.

It’s an unsettling sight to see two offensive stars on the sidelines, but Bruce Arians wasn’t worried. While wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (head) and quarterback Carson Palmer (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, the Cardinals’ coach remains optimistic about their availability for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.

Fitzgerald suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit while trying to field an onside kick late in the game against the Titans, and continues to follow the NFL’s concussion procedures.

“He’s following the protocol, and I think the next step is exercise,” Arians said. “He’s fine so far with what he’s been doing.”

Palmer injured his ankle in the first quarter against Tennessee but taped it up and finished the game. The quarterback at out Wednesday, but did not sound concerned beforehand.

“Ankle’s good,” he said before practice. “Got a lot of treatment on it. Will be ready to roll. Just rest the first part of the week and then get ready to play.”

Palmer did do fine the game against the Rams after not throwing a pass in practice all week, so he has experience in this situation. Fitzgerald’s availability seems more questionable at this point, but his absence is not foreign territory. The Pro Bowl wideout was limited earlier in the year because of issues with both hamstrings, and while he didn’t miss a game, it gave the team’s other wide receivers more work in practice.

The Seahawks have the No. 1 ranked pass defense in the NFL, so help from the entire receiving corps will be essential.

“It’s always good when you have a guy that is playing so many positions and gets so many reps, for a younger guy to get those reps,” Palmer said. “It’s obviously key in their development. I’m sure that will be the case today.”

TONY JEFFERSON, CURTIS TAYLOR NEXT UP AT SAFETY

Safety Rashad Johnson had seven tackles against the Titans in his return to the starting lineup, but suffered a sprained ankle and may not play against the Seahawks.

The Cardinals lost Tyrann Mathieu to a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 8, so they could be down to third-string safety Tony Jefferson, an undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma. Jefferson has mostly been used on special teams, but saw defensive snaps early in the year when Johnson was hurt.

“I’ve gotten my feet wet a little bit,” Jefferson said. “This is a big opportunity, and I’m ready for it. I hope (Johnson) is healthy, and I hope he plays, but if it’s my time, then I’ve got to go in there and do what I’ve got to do.”

Jefferson’s backup would be Curtis Taylor, who was with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League 14 months ago. Taylor played in four UFL games and figured it would be a good way to stay on the NFL radar, but the league abruptly shut down in mid-October of 2012.

“We were in Virginia Beach getting ready to play a game, and they told us that it was over with,” Taylor said. “We got back on the plane and left. The next day, we parted ways. It was crazy.”

Taylor, an LSU product, spent the end of 2012 with the 49ers and was on the Cardinals’ practice squad all season before getting promoted to the active roster Dec. 10 following Mathieu’s injury.

A DIFFERENT FEEL FROM THE FIRST ENCOUNTER

The Cardinals are 6-1 since losing to the Seahawks, 34-22, on Oct. 17. The offense is better, the defense continues to excel and the team has thrust itself into the playoff conversation.

Despite injury concerns and a game which must be played in Seattle, the Cardinals look more dangerous this time around.

“It’s not just one area or one facet of the game,” Palmer said. “We have gotten better across the board, period. I think the main thing we have gotten is trust. Trust in each other, trust in the system, and I think that’s why we have improved in every aspect of our game.”

HOUSLER STILL SITTING

In addition to Palmer, Fitzgerald and Johnson sitting out, tight end Rob Housler (groin) also did not practice again. Running back Andre Ellington (quadriceps), cornerback Justin Bethel (wrist) and wide receiver Michael Floyd (ankle) were limited.

For the Seahawks, linebacker K.J. Wright (foot) is already out for Sunday's game. Defensive end Chris Clemons and running back Marshawn Lynch were given days off. Safety Kam Chancellor (quadriceps), wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip) and tight end Zach Miller (ribs) all sat out as well.


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