The Cardinals offensive line must improve or Adrian Peterson could have a tough time improving the rushing attack.
The Cardinals hope Adrian Peterson will spark their dormant running game, but they will need more than his individual exploits to really catch fire.
While the future Hall of Fame running back is adamant he has a lot left in the tank at 32 years old, even Peterson in his prime may have struggled behind the Cardinals' offensive line the first five weeks. Coach Bruce Arians has regularly pinned most of this season's rushing issues on the guys creating the holes, and there must be an uptick in performance because Peterson can't help there.
"He don't block," Arians said. "He just runs. But he can make people miss. That helps them."
The Cardinals are last in the NFL in rushing at 2.6 yards per tote, the only team averaging fewer than 3.2 yards per carry. Right tackle Jared Veldheer is excited to have Peterson in the fold, but "we always put the onus on us" to get the run game started.
The Cardinals are 29th in the NFL in scoring at 16.2 points per game. The ground game hasn't worked and the pass protection has been poor, as quarterback Carson Palmer has been sacked a league-high 19 times.
"It's easy to blame the offensive line, but it goes on everybody," Palmer said. "Myself, I've missed hot (reads), I haven't done the right thing in protections, and tight ends, running backs, we're all affected, so it's unfairly been thrown on a handful of guys. It's the entire offense."
Peterson is confident he can get the job done even if the blocking isn't stellar.
"It's not my first rodeo," Peterson said. "I've been in situations where I didn't have the best offensive line in front of me and was able to be productive and accomplish some great things as a team and individually as well. Guys are out here working hard."
The Cardinals have been hit hard by injuries on the offensive line, but help could be on the way. Left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and left guard Alex Boone (chest) practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday and Arians is hopeful they can return on Sunday against the Buccaneers.
"They're going to practice tomorrow," Arians said. "I'm hopeful as hell that they're going to get through practice tomorrow."
DRESCHER AIMS FOR ANONYMITY
Peterson is the big-name ex-Saint in the fold, but the Cardinals added another former New Orleans player on Monday when they signed veteran long-snapper Justin Drescher. He will take over for Aaron Brewer, who was lost for the season with a broken wrist while covering a punt against the Eagles.
While Peterson will have praise heaped upon him if he does well, Drescher will be unnoticed when he does his job.
"I don't want my name said," Drescher said. "I want to go in there and snap the ball perfectly as much as I can. Do my job, let (punter) Andy (Lee) crush and watch (kicker) Phil (Dawson) make his field goals. Then nothing should be said."
NKEMDICHE LIMITED IN PRACTICE
Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche was listed as limited in practice on Wednesday as he continues to make his way back after aggravating a calf injury. The Cardinals could use him, as defensive lineman Olsen Pierre (ankle) didn't practice and is likely to miss Sunday's game.
Others limited during practice included Veldheer (knee) and defensive lineman Corey Peters (knee), who were injured against the Eagles, as well as wide receiver John Brown (quad), linebacker Josh Bynes (hamstring), linebacker Karlos Dansby (hamstring), defensive lineman Josh Mauro (elbow), wide receiver J.J. Nelson (hamstring), cornerback Patrick Peterson (quad) and defensive lineman Xavier Williams (shoulder).
For the Buccaneers, defensive end Ryan Russell (shoulder) did not practice, while those limited were linebacker Kwon Alexander (hamstring), linebacker Lavonte David (ankle), defensive end Robert Ayers (back), center Ali Marpet (illness), safety Keith Tandy (hip) and safety T.J. Ward (hip).
DORIAN JOHNSON SIGNED BY TEXANS
The Cardinals' fourth-round pick, guard Dorian Johnson, was signed off the team's practice squad by the Houston Texans. He failed to make the Cardinals' 53-man roster out of training camp.
"He struggled in pass protection, and we saw progress, but not the speed that we would have liked to add him on the active roster," Arians said.
Tackle Givens Price was added to the practice squad in his place.
Cardinals players showed their support to those affected by breast cancer with a night out at Sapporo's in Scottsdale