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Cardinals Cornerbacks Set But Door Not Shut On Malcolm Butler

Notes: No longer starter, Hicks will have significant role on defense

Cornerbacks Byron Murphy (7) and Robert Alford are listed as the top two cornerbacks for the Cardinals heading into the season.
Cornerbacks Byron Murphy (7) and Robert Alford are listed as the top two cornerbacks for the Cardinals heading into the season.

The Cardinals go into the regular season with the top cornerbacks set.

"We have three starters (like) most teams have," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said of the nickel alignments teams are in most of the time. "You can figure those out. That's easy."

It is simple. Byron Murphy Jr., Robert Alford and rookie Marco Wilson are the trio. Depth can potentially be an issue – there is the inexperienced Luq Barcoo, and more experienced Rasul Douglas and Antonio Hamilton on the practice squad – but Joseph sounds content for now.

Besides, facing a Titans' offense with top receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones was going to be difficult regardless of the cornerback personnel.

"It can be anybody on there on the corner, you have to have a plan to contain those guys," Joseph said. "Not just for Marco, but all our corners. No one can cover those guys one-on-one for an entire game."

As for the retired-for-now Malcolm Butler, Joseph acknowledged it had been a surprise the veteran cornerback walked away. Joseph said "no" when asked if Butler's departure was football-related, and left the door open for a Butler return, saying "we'll see."

"He was a big part of what we were doing defensively," Joseph said, adding that he had talked to Butler last week. "(He's) taking care of some personal stuff. That's important. Obviously football is a big part of his life but life is more important than football."

HICKS TO HAVE 'HUGE ROLE'

Linebacker Jordan Hicks, who asked for a trade for the team right after the drafting of Zaven Collins, was named a captain on Wednesday. Thursday, Joseph emphasized the veteran is "going to have a huge role for our team."

Joseph said the two men have had "10 heart-to-hearts" about the situation.

"That's the misconception (from people)," Joseph said. "Zaven's here and Jordan's out. That's not right."

As seen in training camp practices, there is a package where Hicks is on the field with Collins and Isaiah Simmons. That will be utilized, Joseph said, but it'll depend on the game plan for the week.

"It's been tough on Jordan," Joseph said. "But he's a pro's pro. He gets it. He was drafted (by the Eagles) when DeMeco Ryans was the starter and he played for DeMeco. It's the football business side that happens everywhere."

GARDECK DOWN TO LIMITED

Linebacker Dennis Gardeck, rehabbing from an ACL injury, was downgraded to limited in practice on Thursday with a hand issue. Tight end Darrell Daniels (toe) was also limited.

For the Titans, wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee) was upgraded to full. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds (foot) and tight end Tommy Hudson (toe) were both added to the report as limited, and cornerback Chris Jackson (hamstring) and linebacker David Long (hamstring) remained limited.

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