Running back William Powell (33), the NFL's leading rusher in the preseason, will be active for the first time in the regular season Sunday when the Dolphins visit University of Phoenix Stadium.
On game days, William Powell prepares to play alongside his teammates.
He gets to the stadium early and warms up before the crowd arrives, readying himself physically and psyching himself up mentally. Before each game, however, Powell was told he'd be inactive.
That'll change Sunday.
With Wednesday's news that running back Beanie Wells was put on injured reserve/designated to return and with LaRod Stephens-Howling missing practice Wednesday and Thursday with a hip injury, Powell is expected to get his first regular-season action against the Dolphins Sunday. Ryan Williams will be the starter.
"It'll be the same routine that I've been doing just getting ready for each game. The only thing different (is that I) will be in the locker room getting ready for kickoff," Powell said.
Despite a notable preseason that saw Powell lead the league in rushing yards, he was fourth on the depth chart and the odd man out on game days. But Powell has impressed coach Ken Whisenhunt enough for the coach to keep him as his fourth back – in case a situation like this week's arose.
Thus far, he's spent the regular season running opponents' offenses waiting for the opportunity to play in his first regular season game.
"There's only so much you can see from practice in season because you're trying to run the other team's plays," Whisenhunt said. "But William has worked hard.
"If it wasn't for the fact that we had other backs that were good backs, he would've been playing and contributing this year. We knew at some point probably he would have to do that."
To firm up depth at running back, the Cardinals signed Alfonso Smith. Who will get the remaining reps – if anyone – is yet to be seen, but Powell's confidence hasn't wavered, he said. And, maybe more importantly, he's prepared to play.
"Over the first three weeks, I was anxious, ready to get in there and settle back into it," Powell said. "Unfortunately, I was inactive but I stayed ready. You never know in this league when your number will be called so I had to stay ready. Every week I was ready to go in there."
WELCOME BACK, REFS
He didn't take to Twitter to show his delight that the NFL referees will be back to work this weekend, but Whisenhunt was glad nonetheless.
"I thought that it's a tough situation for anybody to be in," he said. "I'm glad that the NFL and the referee association got it worked out and they're back at work."
The NFL and the referees' association agreed on a new contract late Wednesday night, in time for the real refs to be in place for games this week.
"It's nice to know that the games probably won't be as slow and calls will be made right," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "From the standpoint of the fans, it'll be a lot smoother."
BUSH OR NO BUSH, CARDS READY
Reggie Bush wants to play Sunday. Miami coach Joe Philbin said if Bush is healthy, he will play. And that's exactly how the Cardinals want it. Linebackers Darryl Washington and O'Brien Schofield both said they'd rather Bush be in the lineup.
"I wouldn't want any excuses from anybody if we were to win (about) why we won," Schofield said.
Bush was upgraded to limited in practice Thursday, leaving his status for Sunday's game at University of Phoenix Stadium still uncertain. With or without Bush, the Cardinals aren't changing their defensive approach to Miami's fourth-ranked rushing offense, which is averaging 175 yards per game.
"I think they still could be strong at the running game (without Bush) but Reggie's one of those guys who could do so much, cut back and extend plays and obviously catch the ball out of the backfield," Washington said. "I think without having him, it kind of slows them down as far as rushing. They'll still try to run the ball regardless."
DOLPHINS GAME SELLS OUT
The Cardinals announced that Sunday's game against the Dolphins was sold out and will be televised locally on KPHO-CBS 5. It's the 68th consecutive sellout at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Four Cardinals missed practice for a second straight day Thursday.
DT Darnell Dockett (hamstring), TE Jim Dray (knee), TE Todd Heap (knee) and Stephens-Howling did not practice. FB Anthony Sherman (hamstring) returned to practice in a limited capacity. CB Michael Adams (hamstring) and S James Sanders (calf) were limited, as were S Rashad Johnson (hamstring), LB O'Brien Schofield (knee), QB John Skelton (ankle), G Adam Snyder (elbow), S Adrian Wilson (ankle/groin).
P Dave Zastudil returned to practice.