Running back Rashard Mendenhall (28) carries the ball against the Buccaneers last weekend.
Rashard Mendenhall is practicing fully this week, something that the running back's head coach said was necessary to clean up some of the errors Mendenhall made Sunday in Tampa.
Dealing first with a sore knee and then a bad toe, Mendenhall has frequently been limited in practice. That's what Arians pointed to after Mendenhall suffered through a rough game against the Buccaneers, which included a dropped pass, a lost fumble, a near fumble and a near-problematic run out of bounds late in the game that also ended with a fumble – with the ball going out of bounds.
Does Mendenhall think the missed practice time was a factor? "Personally, not really," Mendenhall said. "Maybe it had something to do with it. All in all, that wasn't acceptable and I have to do better and that's what I am working toward."
Andre Ellington has looked good in his part-time work and the Cards still have Ryan Williams
around if they wanted, but Arians hasn't wavered in sticking with Mendenhall even after his difficult game. Up until then, Mendenhall had looked pretty good even if the Cardinals haven't used the run game as much as the pass.
"As a coach, you hope that you practice them enough so that they're functional," Arians said. "He's not making too many mental errors other than the two he had in that ballgame, which were totally unusual for him. We need to keep him running the way he was two weeks ago. The only way to do that is practice full speed."
Mendenhall said the most important thing is to be prepared to play the game, and said it's a fine line between working for that preparedness and making sure he is prepared from a health standpoint. Through four games, Mendenhall has rushed for 176 yards on 52 carries (a 3.4 average) and a touchdown. He's also caught seven passes.
After the lost fumble in Tampa, TV cameras captured Mendenhall and Arians having a heart-to-heart on the sideline.
"As a running back it's a tough situation for you to be in but for him to stick with me through it, I appreciated it and I just wanted to do everything I can to help this team," Mendenhall said.
GOODWIN ON SOWELL
Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Harold Goodwin coached new left tackle Bradley Sowell in Indianapolis last season and has a good idea of what Sowell brings different than former starter Levi Brown.
"Fresher legs, obviously he's younger – doesn't have the wear and tear Levi had," Goodwin said. "He's a second-gear player, he thinks he's the best out there, so he's got a chance to prove that."
Asked if Sowell really thought he was the best out there, Goodwin said, "He better. When you play in the National Football League, you better think you're the baddest dude on the field."
Starting left guard Daryn Colledge (shin) and linebacker Jasper Brinkley (groin) were both upgraded to limited Thursday, leaving only safety Rashad Johnson (finger) sitting out for the Cards.
Brinkley's availability – along with the return to health of rookie Kevin Minter (hamstring), who remained limited – could make for some interesting game day decisions for Arians, now that Daryl Washington has returned. Along with Karlos Dansby, the Cards have to decide if they need four inside linebackers active on game day.
Defensive linemen Darnell Dockett (groin) and Ronald Talley (wrist) remained limited.
The Panthers downgraded defensive tackle Kawann Short (ankle) to did-not-practice Thursday, joining five others who sat out: Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (hamstring), defensive end Greg Hardy (illness), safety Quintin Mikell (ankle) and cornerback D.J. Moore (knee).
PANTHERS GAME SELLS OUT
The game Sunday against the Panthers has sold out, making it the 77th straight game at University of Phoenix Stadium to have sold out. It will be aired on local TV (Fox).