Linebacker Karlos Dansby plays to the crowd after scoring a touchdown against the Rams.
Karlos Dansby wasn't a happy man when the Dolphins cut him last offseason.
"Gave me extra motivation, and I put it to use," the Cardinals' linebacker said.
Dansby signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract to come back to the Cardinals after a three-year hiatus only after it was clear a lucrative multi-year deal wasn't coming from anywhere. That didn't make Dansby flinch; He arrived in Arizona all smiles, ready to get started again in the desert and has been everything the Cardinals could have hoped.
Dansby has emerged as Pro Bowl candidate – it would be his first – with a team-high 113 tackles, nine tackles for loss, six
sacks, three interceptions, two touchdowns and an impressive 18 pass breakups.
"It's like Playstation," defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. "He's making plays all over the place, he's scoring it seems like every time he is touching the ball. He's leading everyone, he knows where the plays are going, having fun and it's rubbed off on the rest of the defense."
All of which begs the question: Will Dansby be back in 2014?
General Manager Steve Keim recently said the team would be aggressive in trying to re-sign some scheduled free agents to extensions. Keim was not specific about who. Dansby said the team had yet to reach out to him. But given Dansby's success, and the need for the Cardinals to be smart about their salary cap and contracts – especially with a player who will be 33 in 2014 – the open market might be needed first for the sides to get a true understanding of Dansby's worth.
For his part, Dansby insists he isn't think about details of his future. He is confident in his future, however.
"I'm having too much fun to even consider what will take place," Dansby said. "I'm just going to ride this wave, enjoy the moments we create as a team, and if it brings me back, it brings me back.
"The sky is the limit for me right now. I'm in a place where I have no worries. None whatsoever."
MATHIEU SURGERY SET FOR FRIDAY; RETURN TIMELINE UNCERTAIN
Injured safety Tyrann Mathieu said he will have surgery to repair the torn ACL and LCL in his left knee Friday. There is no timeline for Mathieu's return to the field – that's impossible to know before surgery – and while Mathieu said he had heard coach Bruce Arians' doubts he could be back for training camp, Mathieu won't rule anything out.
"Coach was just being generous, doesn't want to rush me back," Mathieu said. "But hopefully everything goes well, goes fast, and hopefully I can come back like A.P."
A.P. is Adrian Peterson, the Vikings running back who tore his ACL at the end of the 2011 season yet returned to rush for more than 2,000 yards in 2012. Peterson, however, did not also hurt his LCL, which likely complicates Mathieu's rehab.
That rehab will be in Arizona. "I'm not really interested in going to Florida or going back to LSU," Mathieu said. "I just want to stay out here for the most part."
Mathieu, who acknowledged earlier in the week the long rehab "will take a toll on me," expects a whirlwind of emotions Sunday as he watches the Cardinals on TV as they play in Tennessee.
"I can't travel but they know I'll be locked in, tuned in," Mathieu said. "Probably text them at halftime."
BOWLES TALKES BADGER REPLACEMENT
Bowles compared replacing Mathieu in the lineup like the moves he made when starting linebackers Sam Acho and Lorenzo Alexander were lost for the season. With new starters Matt Shaughnessy and John Abraham different type players than the guys they replaced, Bowles fiddled with his scheme. He will do the same with Antoine Cason and Javier Arenas, who will get most of the snaps created with Mathieu's absence.
"Between Cason, Arenas and (Jerraud) Powers, we will tweak some things, just make sure the other guys are comfortable," Bowles said.
FLOYD RETURNS, HOUSLER STILL SIDELINED
As expected, wide receiver Michael Floyd (ankle) returned to practice on a limited basis today, but tight end Rob Housler (groin) remained sidelined. Running back Andre Ellington (knee), Guard Paul Fanaika (back) and quarterback Carson Palmer (right elbow) remained limited.
Top Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner missed a second practice Thursday because of a groin injury. Linebacker Akeem Ayers (groin) also didn't practice, and tackle David Stewart (shoulder) went from full practice to a DNP. All three players are expected to practice Friday, however, and play Sunday.