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Rashard Mendenhall Counts On Improvement

Posted Nov 7, 2013

Notebook: Mathieu, on Pro Bowl ballot, now a starter; Cards sell out Sunday

Running back Rashard Mendenhall, scoring a touchdown here against Seattle, said he is feeling good after battling a turf toe.

Rashard Mendenhall would like to have better stats than he has, and the veteran running back understands that 281 yards rushing on 92 carries this season has been underwhelming.

“It’s frustrating because you’d like to have more yards as a running back – that’s frustrating – but that’s not been what it’s been,” Mendenhall said. “I know I’ve done all I can do so I’m OK with that.”

Mendenhall has been limited for weeks with ligament damage in his toe – “turf toe” – that has derailed production. He remains limited in practice and acknowledged it has been painful with which to deal.

He played through it up until the Atlanta game, when Mendenhall was given a weekend off and rookie backup Andre Ellington exploded for 154 yards rushing. Despite his limited status, Mendenhall is on track to return to the field again Sunday against Houston and share time with Ellington.

Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said Mendenhall should be back, and “after Andre’s last performance, I’m sure he is ready to go.”

Mendenhall praised Ellington and the dynamic he brings to the offense. He isn’t unaware he needs to get better, and said he self-scouted during the bye week.

“That’s something I do all the time,” Mendenhall said. “I’m very critical of myself. Being from when I was in high school, that was a habit I started with my high school coach, just always kind of looking back at what I did, why I made the decision, what I could do better. That’s something I’ve always done and always grow and learn going forward.”

That should take place on the field.

“I feel great right now,” Mendenhall said.

MATHIEU THE STARTER FINDS HIS WAY ON PRO BOWL BALLOT

It’s been a big week for rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was officially elevated to starting safety over veteran Rashad Johnson and also was finally placed on the NFL’s Pro Bowl ballot. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said it was Mathieu’s work ethic and all-around game that earned him the promotion.

“He gives us a little bit more versatility as far as playing man coverage with the tight ends we’ve been facing and the receivers, having three quasi-corners out there,” Bowles said. “He’s still a good tackler as a safety and he has great ball skills and great hand-eye coordination.

“Nothing against Rashad, who is a damn good safety and plays a ton. He’ll play a ton (still) and they work off each other. But Tyrann has better man skills against the people we were going up against. That’s why we decided to make the move.”

Mathieu continued to praise the help he gets from Johnson, and said there was no difference in Johnson despite the depth chart change. As far as analyzing his own play, Mathieu was brief.

“I could be much better,” Mathieu said, before pausing. “Yeah, I’ll leave it at that. I could be much better.”

FITZ FEELING FINE, BUT OTHER INJURIES

Tight end Rob Housler was added to the injury report with a groin injury Thursday, limiting him in practice. Tackle Bradley Sowell (illness) missed a second straight day of practice, although linebacker Daryl Washington (illness) was upgraded to limited work Thursday.

Also sitting out was wide receiver Brittan Golden (hamstring). Mendenhall, linebacker John Abraham (shoulder) and defensive end Frostee Rucker (calf) were limited.

Tackle Bobby Massie was also absent from practice for a personal reason.

For the Texans, running back Arian Foster (back) and linebacker Mike Mohamed (hamstring) remained sidelined, as was linebacker Tavares Gooden (back). Linebacker Daryl Sharpton (foot/toe), running back Ben Tate (ribs) and guard Wade Smith (knee) were limited.

SELLOUT MEANS FIVE MILLION ON DECK

The Cardinals officially have sold out Sunday’s game against the Texans, the 80th straight game the team has sold out at University of Phoenix Stadium. The game will also mean the arrival of the five-millionth fan to attend a Cardinals’ game since the team opened play at their current home.

CARDS TO WEAR BLACK JERSEYS

The Cardinals will wear their alternate black jerseys for the second and final time this season against Houston. The Cardinals wore their black jerseys earlier this season during their 22-6 win over Carolina.

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