Cardinals tackle Bobby Massie, who is battling to regain the starting right tackle job, is back from a two-game suspension.
The Cardinals are off to one of their hottest starts ever, but one player who hasn't been able to fully enjoy it is Bobby Massie.
Last year's starting right tackle was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy following an arrest for driving under the influence in January. He was reinstated this week, and has re-joined his teammates at practice as they prepare for Sunday's home game against the 49ers.
Massie said being suspended "sucked" because his teammates practiced together while he couldn't – he was in meetings
with the team -- but understands he put himself in the undesirable situation.
"I (expletive) up," said Massie in his first comments to reporters since the suspension. "I made the wrong decision and I dealt with the consequences. All that's in the past now and I'm ready to play."
It's not cut and dried that Massie will return to the starting lineup now that he's back. Coach Bruce Arians has been complimentary of fill-in Earl Watford's work over the first two games and declined to name his starting right tackle on Wednesday.
Arians said Massie has longer arms and contributes more in pass-protection, but Watford is better in run-blocking. Arians said he will continue to evaluate throughout the week.
"It's tough because we're running the ball so well," Arians said. "That's why (a decision) is not going to happen (Wednesday)."
Massie said he will practice this week as if he will be starting on Sunday and then leave the decision up to the staff.
"I was the guy before this whole situation happened," Massie said. "I've just got to get back into it and see what the coaches want."
Watford, who played guard in college, seemed happy with his performance in the first two weeks. The Cardinals didn't allow a sack in either game, although Arians would like to see less pressure on quarterback Carson Palmer.
"For only doing it for three weeks, I think I did some pretty decent things," Watford said. "It was fun, and I of course want to keep doing it and keep getting better. Whatever happens, either one of us will play well."
Arians said that if Massie were to be named starter he'd be on a "very short leash."
"Earl has played well enough to make sure it's a short leash," Arians said.
IUPATI COULD MAKE DEBUT AGAINST FORMER TEAM
Guard Mike Iupati (knee) practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday and seems on track to make his season debut against the 49ers, provided he suffers no setbacks. If he does make his first appearance of the year, it will be against a team with many familiar faces.
Iupati made three Pro Bowls in five seasons with the 49ers from 2010-14, a key cog in what was one of the NFL's best offensive lines. He was one of many starters who left in the offseason, joining the Cardinals on a 5-year, $40 million deal.
49ers coach Jim Tomsula would have liked to keep Iupati on his offensive line in San Francisco but holds no ill will following his departure.
"I am a huge Mike Iupati fan," Tomsula said. "I would ask Mike Iupati and his family to babysit my children seven days a week."
Iupati said the two children of his own are plenty so he's not interested in babysitting, but is looking forward to playing against his old team.
"I was there for five years," Iupati said. "I'm not against them. I'll see them on the field, give it everything you've got and then after the (game) say hi and bye."
ELLINGTON SITS OUT PRACTICE
Running back Andre Ellington (knee) missed practice on Wednesday, although Arians is not ready to rule him out for the game. Wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (shoulder) also sat out.
Woodley is expected back for Thursday's practice, while Nelson has been ruled out for this week's game and could miss up to a month. Safety Deone Bucannon (groin), safety Tony Jefferson (hamstring) and linebacker Alex Okafor (shoulder) were limited.
For the 49ers, linebacker NaVorro Bowman (non-injury related) and running back Reggie Bush (calf) did not practice. Wide receiver Bruce Ellington (ankle) and tight end Vance McDonald (knee) were limited.
KERWYNN WILLIAMS BACK ON PRACTICE SQUAD
Running back Kerwynn Williams was re-signed to the practice squad on Wednesday. He was elevated to the active roster for Sunday's game against the Bears and then released.
Tight end Joseph Fauria was also signed to the practice squad. He was released before the Bears game when Williams was elevated.
Recent images from the Cardinals players' Instagram accounts