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After "Scary" Moment, Mike Iupati Plans To Play

Notes: Floyd, Cooper, Redding still sidelined; Another big tight end Cardinals must cover

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The Cardinals' offensive line -- including guard Mike Iupati (76) moments before the running play that left Iupati without feeling in his arms. Iupati was taken by ambulance off the field, but was fine and is expecting to play this week.


It didn't take long for Mike Iupati to know he was OK.

The guard not only was back in the locker room with his teammates following the Cardinals' win in Seattle and able to fly home as normal, but even before he was loaded on the ambulance from the CenturyLink Field turf he felt he was going to be fine.

But in those moments right before, when he suffered a double stinger and his neck hurt and both his arms went numb, Iupati

was worried.

"It's a scary feeling," Iupati said Thursday. "When I was laying down there, one of those things, just got to pray and it kind of went away."

Iupati had been cleared to practice by Tuesday, and Thursday he was back working on a limited basis. Friday will be a big day in Iupati's return, but he is expecting to play Sunday night against the Bengals.

"I feel good," Iupati said. "Little sore, but that's normal. Football.

"I should be OK. Just practice and make sure everything is good. Be smart."

Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said he was "a little nervous" when Iupati went down. Iupati, 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, was pulling from his left guard spot to the right when he collided with Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor, who is 6-3 and 232. Iupati crumpled to the ground.

Goodwin said it reminded him of a 2013 play of the Cardinals against the Seahawks when right tackle Eric Winston pulled and collided with Chancellor. Chancellor knocked Winston down as well, although Winston was not hurt on the play.

"When you are pulling toward Kam, you better be prepared, because he brings a load," Goodwin said. "I was just glad he was OK."

Goodwin said Iupati's status is still to be determined for Sunday but "he's still goofy Mike, so I'm good."

FLOYD, COOPER, REDDING STILL SIDELINED

Coach Bruce Arians had said he was hoping that a handful of players would return to practice on a limited basis Thursday, and many did – besides Iupati, cornerback Justin Bethel (illness), wide receiver John Brown (hamstring), linebacker Markus Golden

(ankle) all were back some.

But wide receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring), right guard Jonathan Cooper (knee) and defensive tackle Cory Redding (ankle) all sat out and their availability for Sunday is in jeopardy. Floyd and Cooper at least were on the field doing some rehab during the open portion of practice. Redding was in a walking boot in the locker room.

If Cooper cannot play, Ted Larsen would be the likely replacement, especially if Iupati is available.

"Our whole offense, there's plenty of depth," Goodwin said. "I'm not afraid of anything. Teddy's played, (offensive lineman) Earl (Watford) has played."

Safety Rashad Johnson (ribs) and center Lyle Sendlein (shoulder) remained limited but both are expected to play.

For the Bengals, defensive end Michael Johnson was added to the injury report as DNP with a back problem. He joined No. 1 cornerback Pacman Jones (foot) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee). Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee) was limited.

EIFERT NEXT TALL TIGHT END ON DECK

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher was clear about how the Cardinals view Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert.

"He's the best tight end we've seen this year," Bettcher said, adding, "we respect his game, but I don't think our guys are going to bow down to that challenge."

Eifert has 40 catches for 460 yards this season. But it's his nine touchdowns – almost all of them coming within the red zone – that catches the attention.

"Whoever is covering him is going to have a tough job," safety Tyrann Mathieu said.

The Cardinals aren't saying who will draw the assignment, but Mathieu has been heavily involved in the coverage of the last two tight ends, both of whom could play: Cleveland's Gary Barnidge and Seattle's Jimmy Graham. The Cards handled both pretty well. Barnidge had seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. Graham only had three catches for 41 yards.

All three had/have massive size advantages on Mathieu, who is only 5-9. Barnidge is 6-5, Graham is 6-7, Eifert is 6-6. Not that Bettcher cares.

"Not with Ty, no," Bettcher said. "There are not a lot of things he can't do." 



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