Patrick Peterson (21) and Jerraud Powers were the only cornerbacks to play in the opener on defense.
Here's one reason why the Cardinals can carry only three cornerbacks on the roster – because they'll only use two.
For all the concern about the lack of numbers at cornerback coming out of the preseason, Patrick Peterson (all 74 defensive snaps) and Jerraud Powers (73) were the only cornerbacks to be used in the season-opening win over the Saints. There were packages that used third cornerback Justin Bethel, but they were never called, and Bethel didn't play a defensive snap.
"First time I've ever been a part of anything like that in my seven-year career," Powers said. "Whatever they think is going to
work for the team is going to work for the team, I guess. There are only three of us running around and we are all on special teams, but it seemed like everyone held up as far as being in shape, that's for sure."
It's unheard of in these days of three- and-four receiver sets to have only two cornerbacks play, but it is a testament to the versatility of the four safeties the Cardinals employ much of the time, and especially Tyrann Mathieu, the safety who is often playing slot cornerback.
Safety Deone Bucannon – playing mostly a linebacker in the Cards' sub-packages – was in on every defensive snap. Mathieu (73), Rashad Johnson (62) and Tony Jefferson (58) played a ton, and even fifth safety Chris Clemons was in for five defensive plays.
"Never heard of it," Johnson said of the two-corner move. "We all take reps at different spots during practice. Speaks volumes about how talented we are."
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher said many of the defensive backs can be interchangeable, but in a lot of ways, the Cardinals would prefer to do the same things with the secondary – just dress up the plays to make them look different.
"You don't want to do more than what you need to do," Bettcher said.
Things could change this weekend after Jefferson and Bucannon were added to the injury report Thursday. But if Bettcher wants to keep things static, it means Bethel, the Pro Bowl special teamer who played 26 of those plays, might have to sit it out defensively some games.
"I knew what the game plan was going into it and I knew what my role was," Bethel said. "If someone was to get hurt or someone needed a break I would've come in. I knew what the deal was."
ELLINGTON SITS AGAIN; JEFFERSON, BUCANNON HURTING
While Bruce Arians had suggested running back Andre Ellington could still find his way to the field Sunday, Ellington sat out a
second straight practice Thursday with his knee sprain and looks unlikely to be able to play against the Bears.
Jefferson left practice after special teams work with head athletic trainer Tom Reed and was later added to the injury report with a hamstring. Bucannon was added to the injury report as limited with a groin problem.
Guard Mike Iupati (knee) remained limited for the Cardinals.
For the Bears, linebackers Pernell McPhee (wrist) and Jonathan Bostic (ankle) were both downgraded to did not practice. Cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring) also did not practice. Defensive tackle Ego Ferguson (knee) was upgraded to limited work, while linebacker Sam Acho (illness) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (thigh) were both upgraded to full practice.
MORE WORK FOR FLOYD
Wide receiver Michael Floyd practiced full for a second straight day (as did tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas) and his hand injury is becoming less of an issue. Floyd caught an 18-yard pass on the Cardinals' first drive against the Saints, but played just nine offensive snaps.
Coach Bruce Arians said Floyd's role will "expand a little bit" against the Bears. "That's OK with me," Floyd said.
"Unless it's a crucial time of the year, (the few snaps) are what is going to happen," Floyd said. "When you are limited in the week, the guys who are getting the reps (in practice) are the guys who deserve to be out there. But I was glad to get my feet wet out there finally. And they gave me the right coverage on that right play so it worked out well."