Tight end Dominique Byrd hasn't gotten to wear his new number, 86, yet in a game because he has been inactive thus far.
Dominique Byrd fought his way back into the NFL after spending last season out of the game, possibly for good. So waiting for a chance to be active on game days isn?t as much of a chore as perhaps it once was.
Where the tight end fits with the Cards remains undetermined. Anthony Becht and Stephen Spach are the ones who have played every week. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said there has been a determination weekly on whether to keep an extra tailback active or a third tight end, and thus far, the Cards have stuck with rookie LaRod Stephens-Howling as a fourth tailback.
But what does that mean for the future of Byrd? Ben Patrick returns from his four-game suspension Monday, and when he is added to the roster, someone must go. The Cardinals may not want to carry four tight ends, although Whisenhunt may have been tipping his hand when he said Wednesday of Byrd ??I think at some point he?ll have to play for us.?
Byrd, an upbeat sort, isn?t going to worry about it.
?I take every day as an individual day,? Byrd said. ?Of course I am itching (to play). I just have to know every day in practice gets me a step closer in some way, form or fashion.
?You recognize this is a business. I can?t worry myself every five days, of something that could or could not happen. You keep working hard.?
Whisenhunt said Byrd has aspects of his game ?he does very well,? and Byrd has long established himself as a good pass catcher. He isn?t the blocker Becht and Spach can be, however, which is why they have gotten the playing time.
?We haven?t had a number of situations where we have been able to run the ball a bunch and that?s where you really get your evaluation of the tight ends,? Whisenhunt said.
Still, Whisenhunt praised Spach and Becht, saying they have done a ?good job.?
In the meantime, Byrd concentrates on the daily grind in his attempt to stay in the NFL.
?I put the situation I had into perspective and moved on,? Byrd said of the off-field troubles that cost him his job in St. Louis. ?That?s an every-day thing. The day I forget that is the day I am messing up.?
SEEING ANTONIO AGAIN
Defensive end Antonio Smith was part of the heartbeat of the locker room last season during the Super Bowl run, but he left as a free agent in the offseason and signed a five-year, $35 million deal with the Texans. He sees his former team for the first time Sunday.
?He was a big part of what we did,? quarterback Kurt Warner said. ?He?s going to compete, he?s going to have fun, he?s going to talk, no question about that.?
Whisenhunt acknowledged the boisterous Smith ?will be talking quite a bit,? and called the reunion ?bittersweet.?
?Obviously we would love to have Antonio here,? Whisenhunt said. ?That is the way the league works. We wish him the best for every game ? except for the one this weekend.?
Smith also used the word ?bittersweet? when talking to houstontexans.com about the game.
?I?m real fond of Kurt,? Smith said. ?He?s never got to see me put my hands on him, but I guess I?m going to have to do it.?
Smith and Darnell Dockett are close friends. Smith also taught then-rookie Calais Campbell ? who replaced Smith in the lineup ? many of the moves that Campbell used against Jacksonville the week before the Texans played the Jaguars. Smith called Campbell giving him good-natured grief for ?stealing? his moves after seeing it on film.
?I didn?t circle (the date),? Smith said. ?But I thought about it. I?m not going to lie.?
The Cardinals came out of the bye as expected ? healthier. That showed on the injury report, where only six players were listed and no player missed practice entirely. Five ? DE Kenny Iwebema (ankle), WR Steve Breaston (knee), Dockett (ankle), G Reggie Wells (thumb) and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (finger) were limited with their various ailments. As Whisenhunt had already said, DRC was wearing a wrap on his right hand to protect the finger, which would seem to make it more difficult to hold on to an interception. But DRC is expected to play.
Warner also remained on the report with a right shoulder injury, but he practiced fully and said he felt ?pretty good? when asked about his health.
The Texans had a long injury list, with the key name star defensive end Mario Williams, who sat out with a bad shoulder.
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