Long snapper Mike Leach, directing traffic on punt coverage during the preseason, has played in 152 straight games heading into 2012.
It's been 17 years since Cal Ripken Jr. solidified himself as baseball's Ironman.
Mike Leach knows how he felt.
With 152 straight games, Leach owns the second-longest consecutive games played streak for long snappers behind San Francisco's Brian Jennings, who has played in 192 straight games. Justin Snow shared the top spot with Jennings until he was cut by Indianapolis last week, but Snow hasn't yet been signed by a new team.
Among active players, Leach has the 11th-longest streak, having played in all 16 games for the last nine seasons. Leach's magic potion isn't all that magic.
"Not messing things up, I guess," Leach said. "Just go out and try to keep your name out of the paper and do your job and stay healthy."
The latter isn't as easy to control as the former, but playing only a handful of snaps per game has kept odds of staying healthy in his favor.
Leach didn't know about his streak when told about it Thursday but he humbly shrugged it off. The record for consecutive games played by a long snapper is 224 by Ethan Albright, who spent 16 seasons with four teams. It would take more than four more seasons for Leach to tie Albright's mark.
"I'm not even going to think that far ahead," Leach said. "(I'll) just go out and hopefully be there next week and hopefully they keep you around for the next week.
"You just work to do your job every year and stick around and hope you don't get hurt. It's not always easy to do as far as staying healthy. Can't avoid everything. Just been a bit fortunate and done a decent job, I guess."
Of the Cardinals' seven draft picks in the 2010 draft, six are still on the roster and one, Daryl Washington, received a contract extension Thursday.
The draft has become the Cardinals' primary avenue for building a franchise. Of the 56 players on the Cardinals' roster – including injured players – 29 were drafted, 23 were signed as free agents, three were traded for and one was claimed off waivers. Nineteen draft picks since 2010 are on this year's roster.
"I think that's the way you have to do it now," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "You can still take your chances through free agency on a couple of guys to help build your team but basically the core way you have to do it is through the draft.
"The last few drafts have been good. We've gotten a lot of players that have contributed significantly for us via the draft so we can continue on that road. That speaks well for the future."
SEAHAWKS GAME A SELLOUT
Sunday's home opener against the Seahawks was sold out Thursday, the Cardinals announced, and will be televised locally on KSAZ (Fox 10). It's the 66th consecutive at University of Phoenix Stadium, dating back to the stadium's opening.
MEMORIES OF MODELL
During his 10 years as a Baltimore Raven, tight end Todd Heap would bring his wife, Ashley, and their four children to see Ravens owner Art Modell after games and he'd gather the kids on his lap.
It was that memory of Modell, who died Thursday at age 87, that stood out most for Heap. Heap was drafted by the Ravens in 2001 and played there before coming to the Cardinals in 2011.
"I have a lot of great, fond memories of Art Modell and the type of guy he was, what he represented to us as an organization, the people that he brought in, the leadership that he brought, the family atmosphere that he brought to the team," Heap said. "That was kind of all I knew for a long time."
Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill issued a statement after Modell died.
"When you look at those most responsible for the growth and tremendous popularity of the NFL, Art Modell has to rank high on that list. The backbone of that success has been the league's relationship with network television, something Art was instrumental in shaping. Personally, when I think of Art I will always remember his great stories and sense of humor, his generosity and civic leadership, and his passion for the game of football."
There were only two changes to Thursday's injury report. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (groin) went through a full contact practice and wide receiver Andre Roberts (ankle) was limited. Early Doucet (not-injury related) miss another practice. Rashad Johnson (abdomen), O'Brien Schofield (knee), Adam Snyder (elbow) and Greg Toler (hip) were limited. Tight end Rob Housler (hamstring) had another full practice Thursday.
For the Seahawks, running back Marshawn Lynch (back) was upgraded to limited.