Cornerback Antonio Cromartie is helped off the field last weekend by athletic trainers Chad Cook (left) and Tom Reed. Cromartie thought he had ruptured his Achilles, instead, he has a chance to play Thursday with an ankle injury.
Antonio Cromartie thought his season was over, his Achilles ruptured.
"I was thinking, 'This can't be happening,' " the veteran cornerback said.
Cromartie wasn't the only one thinking that. So was coach Bruce Arians when he went to go look at Cromartie, prone on the field last Sunday. By the time the game was over, though, it was clear Cromartie's injury was nearly that serious – he has an issue in the peroneal tendon in his ankle – and everyone was able to exhale.
"That's God's doing," Cromartie said. "I'm beyond fortunate."
"I think someone smiled over his shoulder for sure," Arians said.
Whether or not Cromartie can play Thursday night in St. Louis is to be determined. Cromartie was officially limited again Wednesday in the practice-that-wasn't-really-a-practice the team conducted on this short week. Arians said Cromartie will be a game-day decision, and Cromartie too is willing to wait-and-see.
He said he's jogged on it some, and he doesn't think he'll eventually need surgery, but as for his status for the Rams, "I couldn't really tell you until tomorrow."
If Cromartie cannot go, Justin Bethel figures to step in for some role. When Cromartie went down last week, Bethel took over on the outside with Jerraud Powers remaining as the slot cornerback. Either way, Arians continues to say he likes the direction Bethel is trending as a eventual starting cornerback.
"I definitely feel like I've progressed," Bethel said. "I definitely am more comfortable every time I go out there. I feel I am getting to the point where I can be accountable as a guy who can come in and play."
Bethel could also play more with Tyrann Mathieu (thumb) out for the game, although the Cardinals did add veteran safety Chris Clemons this week as well.
FANAIKA OUT, MATHIEU COULD BE BACK MONDAY
Right guard Paul Fanaika (ankle) will sit out a second straight game, so Jonathan Cooper gets his second start. Cooper will remain on the left side, with Ted Larsen starting on the right side. Mathieu is still out, but the hope is that Mathieu – whose thumb was "shattered," Arians said – will be able to get a playing cast in place so he can begin to practice Monday.
Besides Cromartie, the Cardinals alsod efensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) as questionable. Everyone else is probable, including left tackle Jared Veldheer (ankle) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee). Fitzgerald said he'd be fine. "I'm good," he said. "Good enough to go."
The only player not listed as probable for the Rams is defensive end Chris Long (ankle), who is questionable.
RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE
After his 100-yard day, it would be easy to assume Kerwynn Williams will be the guy who gets to run the ball Thursday, but
that is no guarantee. Arians said Stepfan Taylor will continue to start and the Cardinals will still use running back by committee, choosing to go with the "hot hand."
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin echoed the sentiment of riding who is hot.
"As a running back, you want to be that guy," Goodwin said. "I don't know if you say Kerwynn giving the 'Keep feeding me' (gesture) when he was on the field when he was running well. When you are in that zone, it's a beautiful thing. Obviously a lot of us never experienced that. But it's a great thing to see. Hopefully he can do it again (Thursday), or maybe one of the other backs, I don't care. I just want to win the freaking game."
Arians said he's used running back-by-committee many times. As for the hot hand, "you never know who's it's going to be."
FITZGERALD: CARDS WIN WITHOUT EXCITEMENT, LIKE THE SPURS
Fitzgerald, in describing the 2014 Cardinals, said they were a "grinder team" and as he has done before, said the Cardinals have a "little San Antonio Spurs in us, without the championship rings."
"Obviously those guys have done it for a long time, but they just methodically get it done," Fitzgerald said. "It's not pretty, pick and roll, Tim Duncan shooting off the backboard. It's not sexy, it's not Russell Westbrook dunking in the lane or Blake Griffin catching alley-oops from Chris Paul, but it's effective. We get in close games down the stretch and we are able to finish. We have to be able to show that resolve these last three games."