Running back Ryan Williams (34) takes part in his first practice Thursday since July 28.
Can one shells-and-shorts practice, plus a "mock game" walkthrough, prep Ryan Williams enough to play in his first preseason game?
After participating in his first practice Thursday afternoon for the first time since July 28, the oft-injured running back said yes.
"I will be out there" against the Chargers Saturday, Williams said. "I don't know how many reps I'll get, but I will be out there. Hopefully I can get some plays and get in the end zone."
Williams said he didn't get a chance to make any significant cuts on the knee – none of his plays called for it – but otherwise, he said he was fine. Williams said he tested the knee off to the side Wednesday, allowing him to feel comfortable enough to give practice a try.
He said he wasn't sure how his confidence level in the knee will be by then, with the game more
than 48 hours away. But Williams said the confidence level is already fairly high, and that's crucial, because Williams needs to show what he can do to the coaching staff and organization after his injury-checkered career.
"Every evaluation is critical for him now," coach Bruce Arians said before practice Thursday. "He's missed so much. I want to see how he does in practice before I put him in a game. Hopefully he'll do as well as I think he will and he can get out there and play full speed (Saturday), get tackled."
Williams has only played four games in two years because of his injury issues. When he talked Thursday about getting "the rust off" and how he had "been out a while," unfortunately, Williams has been there before.
Thursday's practice didn't allow him to test the knee in terms of getting hit, which will be another first if he plays Saturday. He played only a handful of snaps, rotating in with the other four running backs. He shrugged off the idea he felt more urgency now than he had before.
"Man, y'all know what I've been through the last two years," Williams said. "This is just another hump I have to get over. And I'll get over it."
KING BACK IN ACTION
Williams wasn't the only player coming back from a long layoff. Veteran tight end Jeff King also came back – in a limited role – to practice. He too has missed most of training camp because of swelling on the knee he had problems with through the offseason.
"You really really miss football," King said. "When you really care about it, it's like they say, you don't know until it's taken away from you. Watching these guys practice, to be honest with you, has been absolutely miserable."
King was supposed to be in the mix at tight end, but his absence, not surprisingly, has hurt his standing. He knows he is fighting for a spot. His advantage, over that of someone like Williams, is that King has proven what he can do.
"He does have a résumé and you can watch him on film," Arians said, "but it helps all of us to see him still do it."
GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK
The Cardinals have totaled five sacks in two games, and Arians said he has generally been happy with the pressure his defense has provided – especially since blitzing has been at a minimum.
"I feel we have gotten the quarterbacks off their marks pretty well," Arians said. "We've been four-man rush, still pressuring the quarterback some with blitzes. Not exotic blitzes, we want to see the cornerbacks cover.
"We know if we can develop a four-man rush, we will be pretty salty. We were exotic enough in this last ballgame, especially in coverage, to create turnovers."
The Cards have forced eight turnovers in two games, including four interceptions.
BACKING UP AT CENTER
Arians wants to have starting right guard Daryn Colledge take "10 to 12" snaps as center against the Chargers Saturday. It isn't about the possibility of replacing starting center Lyle Sendlein but making sure they have a replacement if something happens to Sendlein.
Arians' plan is to have seven offensive linemen active on game days. Aside from the starters, that figures to be, given the players available, one backup tackle and one backup guard. That means if Sendlein got hurt, someone would have to be able to slide in there.
"I told Lyle if he gets hurt I'll kill him," Colledge said. "I told the guys if I move to center there will be no calls. I'll worry about the snap and getting that handled and we will worry about the other stuff later."
Colledge has practiced the position before but said he has never actually snapped a ball in a game.