Cardinals left tackle Bradley Sowell (79, right) figures to deal with Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis (left, against the Cards in 2009) much of Sunday.
The first mention of the name Robert Mathis to Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin draws a knowing raised eyebrow.
As if Goodwin, who also is the Cards' primary offensive line coach, wasn't painfully aware of the trouble the veteran Colts defensive end can bring, he saw plenty of it up close last year as offensive line coach of the Colts.
So did he have any special instructions for his offensive linemen this week?
"Yeah," Goodwin said. "Keep him away from the quarterback."
Easy to say. Not so easy to do. Mathis already has 13½ sacks this season, and will likely be matched up most of the day
against left tackle Bradley Sowell – who as an undrafted rookie for the Colts last season battled Mathis in practice as a member of the "card team."
"Obviously he is a good player, so it doesn't really matter what you know about him," Sowell said. "We just have to do a good job. You might know his moves, but he's still going to be tough to block."
Goodwin said the Cardinals probably will have to use a back or tight end to help block, although he delivered the same caveat as he usually does – the Cards can't help every play and there will be times when Sowell must win a one-on-one battle.
It was a positive that Sowell did not allow a sack in Jacksonville, Goodwin said, and then the coach considered the impact last year's practice work between Sowell and Mathis might have on the game.
"I'm sure Robert is looking at it as a positive," Goodwin said. "Hopefully Bradley is looking at it as a positive. Hopefully Bradley wins more battles."
"One thing about Robert, he never stops," Goodwin added. "He's like the Energizer bunny."
ON A LUCKY RUN
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has already developed into a great passer. But it is his underrated running ability that rounds out his talents and something the Cardinals have to keep in mind. Luck already has 231 yards rushing this season and his four rushing touchdowns is more than guys like Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick.
"That's the part everyone overlooks," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "When you go back to the (Scouting) combine, his numbers were the same as Cam Newton's. He ran as fast, jumped as high, maybe a half-inch shorter, so it's the same athlete as Cam Newton. But you don't hear about (Andrew) in that light. He will kill you with his legs, especially in the red zone."
Arians said the Cards would have to assign a defender to spy Luck just like Newton assuming the Cards go to blitzes or man-to-man coverage (when the secondary is running around with their backs to the line of scrimmage.)
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles wouldn't commit that far, saying it would depend on the Colts' offense and the Cards' gameplan. Bowles also said Luck's runs and runs by guys like Newton aren't quite the same.
"(Andrew) runs when he has to," Bowles said. "Cam may take off a second sooner. But both are big guys and they both can run."
BETHEL DOWNGRADED WITH CONCUSSION
Special teams ace Justin Bethel tried to practice on a limited basis Wednesday with his concussion. Thursday, Bethel did not practice, which certainly leaves his availability Sunday in doubt.
Linebacker John Abraham (hamstring) and reserve offensive lineman Mike Gibson (illness) both were upgraded Thursday to full practice. Wide receivers Michael Floyd (shoulder) and Brittan Golden (hamstring) remain limited.
For the Colts, running back Trent Richardson (calf) and linebacker Kavell Conner (ankle) were each added to the injury report as limited Thursday. Safety Laron Landry (toe) and cornerback Greg Toler (groin) remained sidelined, as did fullback Stanley Havilli (concussion). Running back Dan Herron (ankle) was upgraded to limited, and cornerback Josh Gordy (groin) is also still limited.
COLTS GAME A SELLOUT
For the 81st straight time, the Cardinals have officially sold out a game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Sunday's date against the Colts will be aired on local TV (CBS).
The Cardinals lost a practice squad member Wednesday when linebacker Orie Lemon was signed to the active roster of the Dallas Cowboys. A replacement likely won't be signed until next week.