Linebacker Kevin Minter (51) expects to play Thursday and be ready for the season opener.
Kevin Minter hadn't been on the field since hurting his pectoral muscle in the preseason opener against Houston, so the inside linebacker was thrilled with the idea he was going to practice Monday despite the Cardinals moving into the heat at their Tempe facility.
"They've been trying to be patient and I've had to be patient as well," said Minter, as he and the team waited out the healing process. "(Sitting out) is like watching paint dry. I mean, it's cool watching my teammates do their thing, but goll-lee."
Coach Bruce Arians said Minter is a full-go, as the Cardinals attempt to get the roster ready for the Sept. 8 regular-
season opener. Getting Minter back would be a big deal. Arians has reiterated that the four players that did not dress for Sunday night's game against the Bengals – Minter, guard Jonathan Cooper (toe), safety Tyrann Mathieu (knee) and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu (knee) – would need to play at least some in the preseason finale in order to play in the regular-season opener.
All four practiced Monday.
Minter said he is confident he will be able to play this week and be ready as the regular season starts. Arians sounded more cautious about Cooper, saying he didn't want Cooper's problem to linger deep into the season. Assuming Cooper can go, he'd be expected to join Earl Watford as the starting guards in the preseason finale. Arians said he does not plan to play any starters in the game.
Cooper wants to play, and "moreso, it's just to get the ball rolling again, get comfortable."
"Get out there, get my confidence up, get a bunch of reps," Cooper added. "I'm the type of player that improves each game, so that would just be one more way to improve."
Cooper said he has been told he cannot harm the toe any further, so "I just have to push through it."
Ted Larsen has been starting for Cooper and is playing well. Minter's return would greatly help an area that remains thin, and allow Kenny Demens to go back to a supporting role.
NO STARTERS FOR CHARGERS, BUT LOTS OF THOMAS
There are plenty of reasons for the Cardinals to sit their starters for the preseason finale, not the least of which is keeping them healthy for the regular season. That's another part of it too, since the opponent in both games will be the Chargers – on the road Thursday and at home for "Monday Night Football."
So Arians said the starters won't play this week. And Arians is going even deeper on the depth chart at quarterback, saying rookie Logan Thomas will start and play the whole game. Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton will sit, as the Cardinals got down to three quarterbacks Monday when Ryan Lindley was released.
When Thomas was first drafted "I was struggling," he said. "I had no confidence. Now I have a better understanding. This system is pretty tough. I'm still at the baby stages, but I am getting better."
Arians said there are still about five roster spots that are still open to be won on Thursday.
"You stay generic," Arians said. "You want the young guys to play fast anyway. We'll keep it simple as possible."
MATHIEU ON THE VERGE OF PLAYING
Mathieu still wanted to see how practice plays out the next couple of days, but he admitted "I know it is a great possibility" he will play in a game Thursday for the first time since blowing out his ACL and LCL in a December game.
"I sat out football a year so I'm not really worried about playing a game," Mathieu said. "I know what I can do. I am looking forward to the day when I can get back out there."
Thursday's game is important because again, Arians has said it's necessary for Mathieu to expect to play in the opener.
"Tyrann, he won't play on Monday night if he doesn't play this week," Arians said. "It ain't happening."
DOCKETT HAS SURGERY; KELLY VISITS
Defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, lost for the year with a torn ACL, had surgery to repair the knee today.
In a related note, the Arizona Republic reported the Cardinals will bring in veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly for a workout. Kelly, 33, was just cut by New England.
Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders during the preseason game against the Bengals