Tight end Jeff King (87) takes part in his first practice Monday after coming off the PUP list.
FLAGSTAFF -- Jeff King hasn't been away from football this long in forever.
The tight end, who was activated off the physically unable to perform list Monday two-and-a-half months after injuring his right quad, has never missed a practice in his career. Ever.
"That was hard," King said after the Cards' morning walkthrough. "That was my first time. Hopefully the last as well."
King was cleared by doctors to practice but will be limited for the rest of the week. He will most likely miss Friday's game against the Raiders at University of Phoenix Stadium even though coach Ken Whisenhunt said there's a chance he could suit up. The 6-foot-3 King said he hopes to play "a little bit" against the Tennessee Titans Aug. 23.
Despite the hours of rehab he's already put in, King's not quite back to full form just yet. The knee hasn't swelled up, King said, despite an exhaustive travel schedule the first couple weeks of training camp.
"There isn't anything I can't do, I'm cleared, I've just got to condition it," King said. "You have to re-teach it. You have to re-teach your body to do certain things and get back to that point where you were before. It's getting there. It's like going back to school. You put your right (quad) back to school."
King enters this season with sizeable expectations, having impressed the Cardinals' staff in 2011. He played in all 16 games, starting 10 of them, and caught 27 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
"There's no question his production especially early in the season last year was a big deal and I think that it gives us more versatility when you have a guy that can block like he can but you can still use him in some facets of the pass game," Whisenhunt said. "He's not going to catch 70 or 80 balls or do something like Tony Gonzalez but he's a very valuable part of our offense."
BEANIE WAITS NOT-SO-PATIENTLY
A lot of guys can look good running around a practice field in shorts, Whisenhunt believes. That includes Beanie Wells.
The fourth-year running back was activated off the PUP list last week but still hasn't seen any live game action during this preseason. How he handles practicing in pads this week – his first chance was Monday afternoon -- will determine if that changes Friday, Whisenhunt said.
"I got to see him go through practice in pads and see how his knee responds to that," Whisenhunt said. "I think that we'll just have to see how his knee handles it. The plan is to progress it and see. (There's a) chance he'll play this week."
Wells is getting anxious to start playing again and dressing for warmups Friday in Kansas City didn't help his nerves.
With three preseason games left, Wells said he needs at least one game, most likely two, to get back in the swing but he'll know when he'll be ready.
"I think it's as far as me getting out there and taking a hit," Wells said. "If it would be one play, I just need to go out there and take a hit."
He's back. Again.
Fullback Reagan Maui'a went through a "first" Cardinals practice Monday for the seventh time in his career, but he said this stint with the Cards will be different.
"Every year I always try to give it my best but this year I'm going to push a little beyond normal expectations of myself," he said.
Maui'a was brought back to Flagstaff to fill a void at fullback left by Jared Crank's injury. Without Crank, Whisenhunt is enlisting tight ends to line up at fullback. After Monday's morning walkthrough, Maui'a spent more than 20 minutes running sprints and stretching, long after his teammates hit the locker room.
"You can be in shape, the best shape that you can, (but) you can never be in shape for Flagstaff," Maui'a said. "I just wanted to get the feel, get the elevation back into my system."