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Mike Iupati To Start Against Rams

Cardinals finally have offensive line together; Ellington status is game-day decision

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Cardinals guard Mike Iupati (76) will make his regular-season debut Sunday against the Rams.


The Cardinals are finally going to have the offensive line they planned on having.

Coach Bruce Arians said Friday that guard Mike Iupati, who had been out since the middle of the preseason after knee surgery, will start Sunday against the Rams. Ted Larsen will move to the bench.

"Hopefully he's not too rusty because he has a Tasmanian devil he has to block half the time," Arians said, referring to Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Arians also said there is a chance running back Andre Ellington, who sprained his knee in the season opener, will play

Sunday. It will be a game-day decision.

"I don't see why not," Ellington said, noting that he isn't 100 percent yet. "I'll see how I feel. I'm going to be smart about it."

Iupati will move into the left side next to tackle Jared Veldheer. Right tackle Bobby Massie returned from suspension last week. The right guard is Jonathan Cooper, but because center Lyle Sendlein was on the second unit in training camp, this will be the first time all five have played together in a game.

"It feels good, you know," Iupati said. "You hate to be on the sideline. We're going against great D-linemen. It's one of those things to be excited about. It's football. It's competition."

Iupati shrugged off the idea he will be rusty.

"I'm ready," Iupati said. "That's why I've practiced (since) two weeks ago, to get the rust out. But it is what it is. You just have to go out and play football."

Ellington said he was "pretty close" to being where he needs to be, and needs to feel like himself on Sunday before green-lighting himself. Arians said if all three running backs are playing – with Ellington joining Chris Johnson and David Johnson – they will all have different roles and then the Cardinals will "see how the game goes."

Arians also said that Ellington isn't ready yet to reclaim the starting job from Chris Johnson.

"Andre is not full-speed enough to be a starter," Arians said.

Wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) will not play. For the Rams, safety Maurice Alexander (groin) and defensive end Eugene Sims (knee) are out. Running back Chase Reynolds (knee) is doubtful.



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