Running back Rashard Mendenhall warms up for practice Wednesday on the soggy field in Bradenton, Fla.
SARASOTA, FLA. – Perhaps the best news a wounded defense could get is to find out it will face a first-time-starting rookie quarterback in the next game.
But the Cardinals, reeling from the season-ending injuries of three outside linebackers, got exactly that Wednesday when the Buccaneers officially benched starting QB Josh Freeman in favor of third-round pick Mike Glennon.
"Anytime you get a rookie quarterback he's going to have some jitters," safety Yeremiah Bell said. "At the same time we have to execute on defense. The thing is not to make him comfortable in any way and try and confuse him as much as possible."
Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano declined to discuss the move on a conference call with Cardinals'
reporters, but he said in his local press conference the choice was "performance-based."
"This is the best thing to do for our football team," Schiano said. "We felt at this time, Mike Glennon gives us the best chance to win, and that's why we did it."
Nowhere did Schiano get very detailed in why he made the move. Freeman's completion percentage was a dismal 45.7 percent during the Bucs' 0-3 start. He had two touchdown passes and three interceptions.
"You prepare for their offense," said coach Bruce Arians, adding he was surprised at the move. "Any time you face a rookie quarterback you know it's his first time out there. We should have an advantage, I think."
PRACTICE LACKING SUNSHINE IN THE SUNSHINE STATE
The rain has fallen almost constantly since the Cardinals arrived in Florida, and it was pouring again Wednesday as the Cards headed out to their first practice of the week at IMG Academy.
"Anybody got a boat we can borrow," Arians quipped.
Arians acknowledged that had the Cards known it was going to rain so much, they would have gone elsewhere – or found a place with an indoor facility – but added the team was always going to stay on the East Coast between the Saints and Buccaneers games.
The field the Cardinals used – like much of the area after the constant rain – had big pools of water on both sidelines, creeping a little bit on the field in places. But the Cards made it work – "We just had the best practice in the worst conditions" safety Tyrann Mathieu tweeted afterward – and it at least allowed the players a chance to get out after being cooped up in the hotel because of the weather.
"It's been raining so much there really hasn't been anything to do," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "I'm sure everyone has seen a ton of film and had an opportunity to be forced to watch too much film. It's good to get out and move around."
OKAFOR THINKS ABOUT THE FUTURE
Dansby said he knew rookie linebacker Alex Okafor was in trouble right away when he saw Okafor working with his left arm at one point on the sidelines during Sunday's game in New Orleans.
"I knew what it was," Dansby said. "I said, 'Damn, he tore his bicep.' I said, 'Man, I know what that is,' because it happened to me before. He'll bounce back."
Okafor, who will have his surgery Tuesday, said he hurt the arm playing special teams. He might have been able to play with it, but ultimately chose to get it fixed right away.
"It was my opportunity to kind of step in but unfortunately things happen," Okafor said. "I had a decision to make whether I wanted to do surgery or ride it out for the rest of the season. At this point in my career, it wasn't worth playing through. I don't want it to hamper me the rest of my career."
MINTER, JOHNSON SITTING OUT; FITZ BACK FULL
Safety Rashad Johnson sat out Wednesday, his left hand protected with both bandages and a plastic bag to protect it from the rain. Linebacker Kevin Minter remained sidelined with his bad hamstring. Nose tackle Dan Williams, who is gone to tend to his family after his father was killed in a car accident last week, will not play this week. The funeral is Saturday.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall (toe) was limited, but wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) practiced fully for the first time since getting hurt.
For the Buccaneers, former Cardinal cornerback Michael Adams is out after knee surgery. Five players did not practice: Tackle Gabe Carimi (illness), defensive tackle Gary Gibson (back), wide receiver Vincent Jackson (ribs), defensive tackle Derek Landri (knee) and receiver Mike Williams (hamstring). Tight end Tom Crabtree (ankle) was limited.