Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie makes a spectacular interception during the Cards' win against the Giants.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, somewhat unexpectedly, practiced fully Wednesday. Antrel Rolle, somewhat unexpectedly, had to sit out.
The Cardinals' secondary is coming off of their best game of the season, despite the injuries that crept up in the latter stages of the win against the Giants. By the end of the game, DRC was sitting because of a left ankle sprain. Since safety Adrian Wilson was out because of leg cramps, Rolle – who had a sore arch in his foot – stuck it out.
"I could have sat down, but we were down to our last guy," Rolle said. "In a game like that, you have to suck it up. We moved some guys around, I was trying to talk to the corners about certain situations because I was very limited. It worked out OK."
OK enough that Rolle made the game-clinching interception, while backups Michael Adams, Ralph Brown and even rookie Greg Toler were forced into more extensive roles.
"When they got in, I never thought anything was going to drop off," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "I expect them to do what they did."
Rolle said the secondary is beginning to jell, and he thinks both the players and the coaches are feeling more comfortable using the updated system and where to put players.
Of course, it will help to have all their players. Wilson's cramps shouldn't crop up again. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he didn't think Rolle's injury was serious and the hope is that Rolle returns to practice this week. Rodgers-Cromartie, who estimated he was at about 85 percent, said he couldn't put any pressure on his ankle Sunday and admitted he "couldn't really walk" Tuesday.
"But I did a little treatment and this morning, it was like it was all gone," he said.
Given that – and playing a team struggling to pass the ball this weekend in the Panthers – the Cardinals seem to be in good shape. But after the play of the reserves, Whisenhunt considers himself much more at ease with turning to players like Adams if needed.
"When you get underneath the lights on a stage like that, you obviously have concerns," Whisenhunt said. "But in order for us to be a successful football team, that's what it is all about."
DELHOMME TO START
Early in the week, Panthers coach John Fox wouldn't commit to a starting quarterback, given the ongoing struggles of veteran Jake Delhomme. But Fox said in a conference call Wednesday that Delhomme indeed would start against the Cardinals.
"We have to get out of our funk," Fox said of the 2-4 Panthers. "After evaluating it, looking at it and assessing it, I think (Delhomme) gives us the best chance to win.
Delhomme will be facing the team against which he suffered a nightmare of a playoff game, throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble in Arizona's win.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (ankle) continues to practice on a limited basis, but, like last week, he is expected to eventually be able to play Sunday. Fellow receiver Steve Breaston (knee) also remains limited.
Sitting our practice, besides Rolle, were defensive end Kenny Iwebema (knee) -- who Whisenhunt said should be back Thursday – and tight end Stephen Spach (ankle).
BRINGING ROOKIES ALONG SLOWLY
Whisenhunt was talking about rookie Beanie Wells' progression when he was asked about what seemed to be a trend of taking it slow with first-year players.
"I think what we have done, when we feel the player gives us the best chance to win or when he was ready to do that, we make that move and we have been consistent with that," Whisenhunt said.
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