Cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) battles cornerback Justin Bethel (28) on a special teams drill during Monday's light practice for the Cardinals.
Carson Palmer walked out to the podium outside at the Cardinals' Tempe facility two days earlier than normal.
The Cards play Thursday at home against the Vikings, so everything is moved up. That's not hard when it comes to talking about football. When it comes to playing football four days earlier – after playing a rugged game in St. Louis the day before – it is very hard.
Asked how he was feeling, Palmer said, "like we just got done playing."
"These games are good and bad," Palmer added. "You get the long weekend off, obviously, but you've got to get ready to play. We'll be ready."
Coach Bruce Arians said practices will be not so much practices but walkthroughs.
"We may break a sweat on Wednesday," Arians said.
That's for a team playing at home – the Vikings have to fly cross country Wednesday to play this game, a disadvantage the Cardinals lived through in 2008 when they had to play Thanksgiving night in Philadelphia.
Arians said the challenge of a Thursday game is not only getting physically right, but also gearing back up mentally to learn a new gameplan so soon after finishing the previous game. Usually, that comes on a Wednesday. This time, the coaching staff prepared a gameplan at the end of last week, and the Cardinals – after landing a little bit before 8 p.m. Sunday night from St. Louis – were back in the facility early Monday morning to get ready for Minnesota.
"I'm tired of bitching about them because they're not going away," Arians said of Thursday games.
And at this point, the players understand.
"You do it every season," tackle Bobby Massie said. "Every team plays a Thursday game. It's not like we're the only ones."
Palmer acknowledges that there is a lot less time to prepare, to practice against the scout team and even to install plays. The Vikings, he said, have the same issues.
But, Palmer said, "complaining about it doesn't get you anywhere. You have to watch as much film as you can, get your body ready, and perform."
GRESHAM, TAYLOR BANGED UP BUT NOT SERIOUS
Arians said the
injuries to tight end Jermaine Gresham (knee) and running back Stepfan Taylor (shoulder) are not expected to be serious.
"We looked fairly healthy coming out of that ballgame (in St. Louis)," Arians said.
Gresham did not practice Monday. Taylor was limited.
Arians, while not specifically naming players, did say there were probably some Cardinals who might've been able to play against the Vikings if the game were Sunday but will not with the short week. Defensive linemen Cory Redding (ankle) and Frostee Rucker (ankle), along with cornerback Jerraud Powers (calf), are all trying to get back on the field.
Officially, Rucker, Powers, running back Andre Ellington (toe) and safety Tony Jefferson (hamstring) joined Gresham on the sideline Monday. Others limited besides Taylor and Redding were receivers John Brown (hamstring), Larry Fitzgerald (ankle) and Michael Floyd (hamstring), safety Rashad Johnson (ankle) and long snapper Mike Leach (knee).
The Vikings did not practice but were required to put out an injury report as if they would have. DE Scott Crichton (ankle) was limited, with seven others listed as DNP: LB Anthony Barr (groin/hand), S Robert Blanton (knee), S Antone Exum (rib/shoulder), DT Linval Joseph (foot), S Andre Sendejo (knee) and LB Brandon Watts (ribs).
DAVID JOHNSON'S BLITZ PICKUP
Rookie running back David Johnson played well in his first start, making a touchdown reception and gaining 99 yards rushing on 20 carries. But he also did a nice job with his blitz pickup, perhaps the part of his game that concerned the Cardinals the most heading into his start.
"He did a great job, starting from the first play on," Arians said. "(T.J. McDonald) is a powerful blitzer and he took him on. Time and time again, he'd have either McDonald or the linebackers, and he didn't miss any assignments and I don't think he missed any blocks."
Palmer, who was saved from some big hits because of Johnson's protection, called Johnson's efforts "phenomenal."
"He had some really difficult pickups because of the angle he was trying to attack the guy coming full speed," Palmer said. "I know one of them he got knocked down pretty good but he got the guy and that's all that matters."