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With Cast, Tyrann Mathieu Ready To Return

Notebook: Fanaika healing but Cooper hopes to start; Fitz named sportsmanship award finalist

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A casted Tyrann Mathieu (32), here talking to teammate Calais Campbell in Atlanta, will play with the cast Sunday against Seattle.

Tyrann Mathieu doesn't expect to intercept a pass on Sunday night against the Seahawks, but he does expect to be on the field.

The second-year safety practiced on Monday with a cast sheltering his broken left thumb and should be available for the highly-anticipated NFC West showdown. He was slowed at the beginning of the season while recuperating from a torn ACL and missed the

past two games with the thumb injury. Mathieu admitted catching a ball with the cast on would be quite the trick but he's excited to rejoin his teammates and contribute as much as possible.

"I wasn't going to miss this one," Mathieu said. "I didn't want to miss the last two."

While the Cardinals' quarterback injuries have grabbed the headlines, the defense is in better shape than it's been since early in the year. In addition to Mathieu, fellow starters defensive end Calais Campbell, linebacker Matt Shaughnessy and linebacker Alex Okafor have all missed multiple weeks but since returned.

While defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and linebacker John Abraham were both done for the season long ago, only rookie defensive tackle Ed Stinson – who could be shut down for the season after a setback with his toe injury -- is in danger of missing this one among the key defensive pieces.

The Cardinals figure to need a dominant defensive effort to win. They'll give it a shot with nearly all hands on deck.

"There's a lot at stake this week and it feels good," nose tackle Dan Williams said. "It's like having a gun and having it fully loaded. It feels good to have all your bullets. But in the end, everyone has to be prepared and ready to play. It's just not having those guys, but having them mentally ready and prepared to give our best."

The Cardinals have allowed 20 total points in their past two victories, and hope to similarly limit Seattle. Even though third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley will be under center on offense, Mathieu said the defense doesn't approach this contest any differently than if it was Carson Palmer or Drew Stanton at quarterback.

"We go into every game wanting to score points as a defense and set up great field position for our offense," Mathieu said. "I'm sure this weekend won't be any different. I don't think we're going to do anything special."

COOPER GETS CAST ON ARM, STILL PRACTICES

Guard Jonathan Cooper hurt his wrist against the Rams and, like Mathieu, sported a cast on his left arm in the locker room on Monday afternoon. He said the injury happened when a running back tried to help him in pass protection but instead hit his hand.

Cooper called the wrist injury "somewhere in between" a sprain and a fracture. He said the pain will affect him but will be tolerable

enough to play through.

"Right now I think it's just a mental hurdle," Cooper said. "I'm glad we had this, what B.A. called a bonus day. It allowed me to get out there, not going extremely hard but still getting a decent tempo and getting a feel for it. Go back to the training room and make some adjustments with the padding and stuff I have on it. Once I get over that I should be good to go."

Cooper has started the past two games in place of the injured Paul Fanaika. Fanaika is recovering from a sprained ankle but returned to practice on Monday and coach Bruce Arians expects him to be available for Sunday.

The Cardinals have posted consecutive season highs in rushing yards the past two weeks with Cooper at left guard and Ted Larsen at right guard, and Arians was noncommittal which guards he will use in the starting lineup.

"We'll wait and see how healthy (Fanaika) is, but he looked good running around today," Arians said.

Cooper said he practiced with the first-team on Monday but has not been told what will happen.

"I was out there today, but whatever they say, I'm going to do it," Cooper said.

FITZGERALD A SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD FINALIST

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been named one of eight finalists for the inaugural NFL Sportsmanship Award. Each of the 32 teams nominated a player earlier this year who exemplified outstanding sportsmanship on the field.

The other finalists are Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Lions wideout Calvin Johnson, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware, Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater, Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway and Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.

The award will be voted on by NFL players and the winner announced Jan. 31 during the nationally televised "4th Annual NFL Honors" show on NBC.

QUARTERBACK ADDED TO PRACTICE SQUAD

The Cardinals signed quarterback Jeff Mathews to their practice squad on Monday. Mathews, an undrafted rookie, set 47 school records at Cornell before joining the Falcons for the training camp and preseason. He was released on Aug. 24 and then spent a couple weeks with the Colts. He is not expected to be in the mix at the position at any point, even with the injury to Drew Stanton.

"We liked him coming out (of college)," Arians said. "He has a nice arm. He's got some size about him. It'd be a good future for us."

The top 10 images from Thursday night's win over the Rams



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