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Cardinals Promote Jonathan Ward, Release Curtis Riley

Running back has played special teams in Foster's absence

Running back Jonathan Ward takes part in kickoff coverage during Sunday's game in Carolina.
Running back Jonathan Ward takes part in kickoff coverage during Sunday's game in Carolina.

Jonathan Ward has run out of "free" trips from the practice squad and back, so the Cardinals made sure the rookie running back would be available going forward by permanently promoting him to the active roster Tuesday.

The corresponding move to clear a roster spot -- the release of veteran safety Curtis Riley -- also may signal good news at that position as well, if some injured players return.

Riley struggled Sunday in Carolina, eventually coming out of the game in favor of special teams ace Charles Washington. The Cards were without their top three safeties because of injury -- Budda Baker (thumb), Jalen Thompson (ankle) and Chris Banjo (hamstring).

Asked about the safeties play and Riley in particular, coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday that "I think it was a rough day overall for our team."

"We just didn't play up to our standard, and that's how it went," Kingsbury added. "I don't know if it was one person here or there as much as just overall effort when you're talking about coaching and playing."

Kingsbury said he was hopeful the injured trio could be back soon, although he was not specific. When the news of Baker's necessary thumb surgery broke last week, one national report said the Cardinals hoped Baker would only miss the Carolina game and then play with a brace, but Kingsbury would not confirm such a timeline.

Thompson is technically eligible to come off injured reserve this week. Banjo's practice status is something else to watch.

Ward was elevated to the gameday roster the last two weeks to play special teams before reverting back to the practice squad. Players can make two such moves this season from the practice squad with the ability to go right back without going through waivers. Without that ability -- and apparently seeing Ward remaining in the special teams role manned by running back D.J. Foster before Foster got hurt -- the decision was made to put Ward on the roster permanently.

Foster (quadriceps) is currently on the Practice Squad Injured Reserve list.

Images from the Week 4 loss to Carolina.