Deone Bucannon practiced on Wednesday, and seems on track to return from a three-game absence Sunday against the Falcons.
While that brings some clarity to his injury situation, there is still plenty of vagueness hovering over the Cardinals’ veteran linebacker.
Before suffering a chest ailment against the Raiders, Bucannon’s season had not gone as hoped. He lost an every-down role early in the season and his playing time vacillated in ensuing games.
Even though the Cardinals will be without starting linebacker Josh Bynes (thumb) the rest of the season, coach Steve Wilks declined to say whether Bucannon would play full-time in Atlanta.
“We’re definitely going to try to get Deone back on the field,” Wilks said. “With some of the things that I’ve talked to (defensive coordinator) Al (Holcomb) about -- I’m not going to go into detail with how we’re trying to use him -- but we definitely want to get him out there.”
The fight to see the field has been a new experience for Bucannon, who was one of the defense’s key playmakers the previous few seasons. He admits this year has been challenging and that he doesn’t like the reduced role, but is focused on excelling during the snaps he does receive.
“It ain’t no bad blood for me,” Bucannon said. “Me as a competitor and me as the player I know how to be, I feel like I’m an every down player, but everybody is not going to see it that way. And that’s fine.”
It’s unclear how Bucannon will be used down the stretch, and it’s also unknown if he will return to the Cardinals in 2019. The former first-round pick is scheduled to hit free agency for the first time this offseason.
Bucannon said he has thoroughly enjoyed his five years with the Cardinals but is unsure what the future will hold.
“I just want to play football for as long as I can and I want to be somewhere where I’m appreciated, where they’re going to use me to the best of my abilities,” Bucannon said. “Whether it be here or whether it be somewhere else, I want to be on the field as much as I possibly can.”
TORN ACL FOR NKEMDICHE
Wilks confirmed on Wednesday that defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche was lost for the season due to a torn ACL. The former first-round pick will have surgery on the knee Thursday, which will knock him out of offseason work and could put his availability for the start of 2019 in jeopardy.
Nkemdiche showed some flashes of dominance this season but injuries again slowed him.
“He was progressing,” Wilks said. “He had a great game against the Chargers and he was hurt before that. Just on and off the field and then all of a sudden when something like this happens, it just sets him back.”
DAVID JOHNSON DOESN’T PRACTICE
David Johnson (quad) didn’t practice on Wednesday, although Wilks believes his star running back will be fine to play against the Falcons. Safety Budda Baker (knee), wide receiver Chad Williams (hamstring) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (vet day) also didn’t practice.
Bucannon, guard Oday Aboushi (toe) and left tackle Korey Cunningham (hip) were limited.
For the Falcons, wide receiver Julio Jones (foot/calf), tight end Austin Hooper (knee/ankle), defensive tackle Terrell McClain (toe) and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (groin/shoulder) didn’t practice. Those limited were linebacker Deion Jones (foot), tight end Logan Paulsen (knee/ankle), running back Ito Smith (neck) and guard Ben Garland (neck).
Cardinals Crowd Shots: Lions Game
Images of Cardinals fans at State Farm Stadium during the Week 14 matchup against Detroit