Drew StantonAP Photo/Jack DempseyWithout the lessons he learned from Shaun Hill and Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton might not be the Cardinals' starter now.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Lions backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky knew how he’d feel Sunday, when he watched his friend get the opportunity backup quarterbacks lay in bed at night and think about.

Orlovsky was happy for the Arizona Cardinals' Drew Stanton, who got his fourth start of the season against the Lions. But he still wanted him to lose.

“I had jokingly said to him and his family, 'Listen, if you play well and we win by one point I’ll be really happy,'" Orlovsky said.

The eight years of friendship, the trips the two had taken with their families to visit each other, the good times they had as teammates in Detroit -- all of that was put on hold when Stanton was given another shot at being a starter, taking over for the rest of the Cardinals’ season in the wake of Carson Palmer's knee injury.

“When you go extended periods of times like Drew and I have, when you’re the backup, you don’t get the competitive aspect of things on Sunday,” Orlovsky said. “So when you get the taste of it again, it’s a lot of fun.”

Orlovsky and Shaun Hill taught Stanton the art of being a backup quarterback, and this season they’ve seen the fruits of their labor pay off.

When Stanton was drafted in the second round in 2007 by the Lions, Orlovsky was entering his third season. Stanton was a younger, higher pick coming off a celebrated career at Michigan State. Orlovsky saw the writing on the wall; Stanton would be his competition to be the Lions' next starting quarterback. Instead of the competition driving them apart, it united them, Orlovsky said.

And the closer they became, the more Stanton learned. When Orlovsky started seven games in 2008, he delegated duties to Stanton, having him watch film and report back. From Orlovsky, Stanton learned how to structure his weekly workload to begin mentally preparing to play.

When Orlovsky left Detroit following that season, the door seemed to be open for Stanton to compete for the Lions’ starting job. Instead, they drafted Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick in 2009. Unbeknownst to Stanton, it wasn’t the first time he’d sniff a job only to see another quarterback swoop in and take it.

A year later, the Lions traded for Hill and Stanton’s career was forever changed.

“I can’t say enough things about Dan; but Shaun showed me, because Matthew was the starter, how you prepare as a backup and systematically, how you break that down,” Stanton said.

“I look up to him and really feel if it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t be in the NFL right now.”

From Hill, now the St. Louis Rams starting quarterback, Stanton learned how to prepare with game film and stay one step ahead of the coaches.

As a third-string quarterback in Detroit, Stanton wasn’t getting many reps. So after games, Stanton would get the call sheet from the previous game and gather the practice squad. They would go through the plays, Stanton making all the calls and checks as if he were Stafford starting.

Then Stanton would watch the game film, digest it and move to the next game. Stanton said he continued the routine in Indianapolis and Arizona. Before he was the starter in Arizona, Stanton would spend Fridays with Cardinals quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens going over footwork, synching it to the play calls.

In Detroit, Stanton and Hill also watched their next opponent’s past two games, to get an idea of what they might run and what they liked to do. Then they’d watch Lions cut-ups.

“The big thing I learned from him was always staying a day ahead of the coaches as far as watching film,” Stanton said.

Stanton implemented those practices with the Cardinals, watching first-, second- and third-down plays by Wednesday. Then, Wednesday nights he’d watch red zone, breaking down plays from the high red zone to the goal line.

“It is systematic,” he added. “It’s a grind those first couple of days. Once you get everything else in, you go back through.”

Stanton took what he learned from Hill and Orlovsky and signed with the New York Jets on March 16, 2012, as a free agent. On March 22, the Jets passed over Stanton, trading for Tim Tebow. A day later, Stanton was dealt to Indianapolis, in what became the most important move of his career.

He arrived in Indianapolis, a month before the Colts drafted Andrew Luck. There, he met Bruce Arians, then the Indianapolis offensive coordinator.

"I just loved the way he prepared,” said Arians, now the coach of the Cardinals. “And I watched him grow as a player. His first spring with Andrew out, he wasn’t really as accurate as he needed to be. He and [Colts quarterbacks coach] Clyde Christensen worked hours on footwork, mechanics and he got really, really accurate.

“But you saw him grow and how much growth was still there, but the preparation was meticulous.”

Stanton followed Arians to Arizona, signing on March 13, 2013. Almost immediately after, Arians told him another quarterback would likely be signed and even gave him the names he’d be hearing -- coincidentally enough, Palmer wasn’t on the list.

At that point, Stanton had played seven seasons and been passed over for four starting roles.

“Drew may not have been able to do that if he didn’t go through all the junk he went through,” Orlovsky said. “Who would be able to handle all that stuff if they weren’t mature and hardened and not taking things for granted?”

Twenty months later, due to an injury, Stanton has proved his ability as a starting quarterback. He waited 1,365 days between game action before his start in Week 2. Since then, he's gone 3-1 as a starter this season with six games left.

“There’s no written rule on how you become a starter in this league,” Stanton said. “Everybody finds their own path if they get it. Some guys don’t get it. I’m going to take all of my opportunities as they come and count my blessings.”
TEMPE, Ariz. – It would’ve been easy to pick against the Cardinals on Sunday at Seattle.

The Seahawks are 19-2 at home under Russell Wilson. They’re the defending Super Bowl champs. They have one of if not the most feared running backs in all of football. And did I mention they play in one of the toughest venues in all of sports?

To top it off, the Cardinals are 6.5-point underdogs, according to Westgate Las Vegas.

Then there are the comparisons: Seattle has the No. 1 rushing offense and Arizona has the No. 3 rushing defense. But the Cardinals are 30th in the rush and Seattle is seventh against the run. By looking at the numbers, the passing offense won’t be much of a factor Sunday – the Cardinals’ have the 11th-best passing game in the league and the Seahawks have the third-best pass defense. But Arizona’s pass defense is 29th and will face the 30th-ranked passing offense.

But after watching what Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles did to Dallas’ DeMarco Murray, it’s hard to doubt he can – and will – do it again to Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch. The Cardinals have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season and just one team, the Philadelphia Eagles, has hit triple digits.

The difference will be Arizona doing the small things Sunday. The Cardinals are penalized less (65 to 81), have more sacks (18 to 13), get sacked less (16 to 20) and allow fewer points (17.6 to 21.5). Their turnover differential is plus-11 compared to plus-5.

A win in Seattle won’t happen because of the obvious. It’ll be the discreet that sends Arizona home 10-1.

Prediction: Cardinals 20, Seahawks 14.

Fantasy Now: Larry Fitzgerald

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
12:08
PM ET


video

ESPN fantasy analyst Stephania Bell discusses WR Larry Fitzgerald's status for Sunday.

Cardinals reminiscent of 2012 Ravens

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
11:07
AM ET

Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesAndre Ellington has helped the Arizona Cardinals overcome the loss of Carson Palmer and maintain the best record in the NFL this season.
One of the teams in Sunday’s Seattle Seahawks-Arizona Cardinals showdown is following a tried-and-true Super Bowl formula.

A productive running back and a quarterback who isn’t afraid to throw deep have complemented an excellent pass defense, just like in a recent Super Bowl season. No, not the Seahawks again. It's the Cardinals who look almost identical to a recent Super Bowl champion -- the 2012 Baltimore Ravens.

On the ground
Start with the running back. Andre Ellington has accounted for 28.5 percent of his team’s yards from scrimmage this season, third most in the league.

Ellington’s versatility is reminiscent of Ray Rice during Baltimore’s Super Bowl season. Rice also was responsible for over one quarter of the Ravens' yards from scrimmage, and (like Ellington) was equally capable of making an impact as a receiver.

In the air
With Ellington as the focal point of the offense, the Cardinals haven’t been afraid to throw down the field, regardless of the quarterback.

Sixteen percent of Arizona’s pass attempts have been thrown at least 20 yards downfield, fourth highest in the league and the same percentage as the 2012 Ravens (second highest in the league).

Carson Palmer’s injury has left Drew Stanton as Arizona’s signal-caller for the rest of the season.

But Stanton has been impressive throwing downfield so far this season. He’s completed 10 of 25 downfield attempts (40 percent) for 325 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions despite facing the Lions (second in QBR allowed), 49ers (sixth) and Broncos (14th).

Those numbers look similar to what Joe Flacco did in Baltimore’s postseason run. Flacco was 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) for 504 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions during the Ravens’ four-game playoff stretch.

On defense
If Stanton stays hot and the Cardinals put up points, Arizona’s elite pass defense can hold up against teams throwing to catch up. The Cardinals have allowed a 45.4 QBR this season, fourth best in the league and right on par with the 2012 Ravens.

No team in the league has a better QBR allowed when targeting wide receivers than the Cardinals (55.8), the only team below 60.

The Cardinals’ pass rush diverges from how Baltimore pressured opposing quarterbacks.

Arizona has sent extra rushers on 42.2 percent of dropbacks this season, second most in the league. The Ravens blitzed on only 28.7 percent of opponents’ dropbacks.

Though they went about it in different ways, the result was largely the same. Quarterbacks haven’t been comfortable against the Cardinals, who pressure (sack, under duress or hit while throwing) on the 12th-highest percentage in the league (26.8 percent).

Baltimore’s 2012 rank in pressure percentage? Eleventh.

Neither defense had problems stopping the run. The Cardinals have allowed 3.5 yards per rush this season, fifth best in the league. The 2012 Ravens also allowed fewer than 4.0 yards per rush (3.99).

And special teams, too!
The similarities don’t stop at offense and defense. Even the Cardinals' special-teams unit resembles the 2012 Ravens, a group that played a critical role in the 34-31 Super Bowl victory, when Jacoby Jones took the second-half kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown to go up 28-6.

The Ravens’ special teams contributed 1.75 expected points per game, fourth best in the league. The Cardinals’ special teams have contributed 1.71 points per game, seventh in the league.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cardinals linebacker Kenny Demens couldn’t sit still Sunday night.

Demens
Gray
With every one of New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray's 201 yards, Demens kept jumping off his couch. He’s known since their days together at Detroit Country Day what his high school best friend was capable of doing on a football field. On national TV Sunday night, the rest of the country found out.

"I was happy for him," Demens said. "I’ve always known what he could do, but I’m just glad that he finally got his chance to go out there and shine. He made the most of his opportunity."

As soon as they met, Demens said he and Gray instantly became friends. They were the type of best buds who were inseparable. They did everything together -- from going to parties to studying, and everything in between.

As a prep star, Gray was "that running back that was bigger than everybody else’s offensive line," Demens said. Add in Gray’s speed -- 4.3 seconds in the 40 and a 10.6-second split in the 100-yard dash, according to Demens -- and Gray was "amazing."

"He was a load," Demens said.

The two planned to go to college together. Demens said they were either staying home at Michigan State or headed to Nebraska. Gray committed to the Cornhuskers, but soon after decommitted for Notre Dame. Demens ended up at the University of Michigan. Both still wound up in the NFL.

Like most high school friendships, it didn’t stand the test of distance. The two didn’t remain as close in college. They still talked, however, and Gray visited Demens at Michigan a couple of times.

"We still hung still hung out whenever we had a chance to," Demens said.

Now, they talk even less. But that didn’t stop Demens from celebrating Gray splashing onto the national spotlight.

"That’s still my boy," Demens said.
video When: 4:05 p.m. ET Sunday.Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle. TV: FOX

Now who would have thought the Seattle Seahawks would be the team in a must-win situation in late November when the Arizona Cardinals came to town?

Such is the case in a key NFC West matchup between the division leading Cardinals (9-1) and the Seahawks (6-4), who need a victory to keep any realistic hope alive of winning the division title.

Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and Seahawks reporter Terry Blount take an in-depth look at some of the issues facing each team in this division showdown:

Blount: Josh, let's get right to the point. Can the Cardinals keep up the pace, win the NFC West and become the first home team in the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton at quarterback?

Weinfuss: If you would've asked me this last week, I would've said wait until we see how he plays against the Detroit Lions. I needed a game to decide if he's capable of making the run that you just described and here's what I've determined: He can keep the 9-1 run going and he can win the NFC West, but I'm not sure the Cardinals can go to the Super Bowl. Stanton is capable of winning games during the regular season for two reasons: 1. the offense hasn't changed and he's more than capable of running it almost as efficiently as Carson Palmer and 2. the defense has been playing great and can clean up any mistake Stanton makes. But the reason I don't think Arizona makes the Super Bowl is because that deep in the playoffs, teams are good enough to capitalize on the missteps -- especially if they're playing a team like Green Bay.

For the most part, a Super Bowl hangover is a myth ... but yet it seems like that's what the Seahawks are going through this season. Simply asked, are they?

Blount: The players scoff at the Super Bowl hangover talk, but whatever you call it, things have not gone the way the Seahawks expected. This is a group of players who believed they would continue to get better, the best was yet to come and they would make it back to the Super Bowl. The odds are against them now, but I think they've learned what so many other Super Bowl champs learned -- it's a lot harder to stay on top than it was to get to the top. The Seahawks just don't have the depth they had a year ago and it has shown with the injuries they've experienced. And no matter how much they deny it, the Percy Harvin trade threw everyone for a loop and brought about a lot of national speculation about problems in the locker room. Most of it was baloney, but it was a distraction they didn't need.

Josh, I, for one, am shocked how well the Cardinals have played on defense this season after losing Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby and Darnell Dockett. Does defensive coordinator Todd Bowles have some magic potion? How have they done it?

Weinfuss: If he does have some magic potion, he's not selling it. Arizona's defense hasn't dropped off and that's because of Bowles. In short, his scheme works. He's able to develop a game plan and mold his 3-4 scheme around his and the opponents' personnel. Case in point: Against Dallas, Arizona ran a 4-3, he played Dan Williams and Sam Acho more, and the Cardinals broke DeMarco Murray's streak of 100-yard games. Bowles isn't one of those coaches that makes a square peg fit into a round hole. And, what's been the cement for all of Bowles' bricks, has been the locker room buying into the next-man-up philosophy that Bruce Arians has preached since he got here.

Terry, will Marshawn Lynch be able to carry the Seahawks to the playoffs this year or has that ship sailed? And how has not having Golden Tate impacted the offense?

Blount: If ever there was a player who fit the definition of an enigma, Lynch is it. On the field, he is performing as well as he ever has. He's rushed for 264 yards in the last two games alone. But this is a man who marches to the beat of a different drummer. He's still upset about not getting what he wanted after his contract holdout, an issue that Pete Carroll said they are working through. Lynch's decision last week to stay in the field at halftime to get treatment on his back led to speculation about him sulking, which wasn't true, but the fact that he didn't talk to reporters after the game led to increased speculation. Now he's been fined $100,000 by the league for not talking. It becomes a sideshow the team doesn't need, but he answers by giving all he has on the field an playing at as high a level as he ever has. As for Tate, it's clear now he was a big loss, not only at receiver, but also as a punt returner. Frankly, the Seahawks haven't gotten what he gave them as either spot.

Josh, the Cardinals now are 19-7 under Arians after going 18-30 the previous three season before he arrived. And the Indianapolis Colts were 9-3 while Arians was the interim head coach during Chuck Pagano's 2012 illness. What is it about Arians that has made him so successful?

Weinfuss: It all boils down to the fact that he doesn't pull any fast ones on his players. His players respect him and bought into his philosophy. They'll do anything for him. It also helps that Arians is an offensive genius. When his scheme finally started clicking last season and Arizona went on that tear in the second half, his players finally saw he wasn't this mad scientist with a confusing offense.

Both Russell Wilson and Carroll downplayed losing to the Cardinals last season. Have you seen that game linger in their memories at all this week?

Blount: Not at all. The truth is the Seahawks entered that game knowing they had two home games left to clinch the division title and home-field advantage in the playoffs, so they didn't have a sense of urgency. They sure as heck do now, and they realize Arizona is the real deal. They are way more concerned with the 2014 Cardinals than the 2013 version that caught them napping last December.

video
Flush the Pocket will be your daily morning dose of the Arizona Cardinals. It'll recap the top storyline from the previous day and give you a look at what everyone is saying locally and nationally.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton might keep Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman busy Sunday afternoon.

In five appearances this season, Stanton’s 89.5 Total QBR on pass attempts to the offense’s right side of the field ranks second in the NFL behind Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Stanton’s right side also happens to be Seattle’s defense’s left -- where Sherman patrols.

Stanton favors the right side of the field, throwing for 49.8 percent of his yards to the right side (versus the middle or left side). About half of his completions and three of five touchdowns have gone that direction.

According to Pro Football Focus, Sherman is the eighth best cornerback in the league heading into Week 12. His completion percentage is 51.1 percent, 10th best in the league and behind Arizona’s Antonio Cromartie (45.1 percent).

In other news…

Doug Farrar of SI.com writes about two former outcasts leading Arizona.

Jarrett Bell of USA Today writes about the Cardinals' resiliency.

Kent Somers of azcentral.com writes about Drew Stanton giving up dairy.

Bob McManaman of azcentral.com writes about Larry Fitzgerald's durability.

Paola Boivin of azcentral.com writes about Stanton's Michigan State lessons.

Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona writes about the Cardinals' running game.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com writes about Fitzgerald's optimism.

Kyle Odegard of azcardinals.com writes about the Cards' secondary.
TEMPE, Ariz. --Sunday's game at Seattle will be the 11th Arizona Cardinals game that referee Gene Steratore has called since becoming a white hat in 2006.

The Cardinals are 7-3 overall with Steratore as their referee, according to ESPN Stats and Information, and 3-2 on the road. The last Cards game Steratore officiated was their 23-14 win over San Francisco in Week 3, and the last road game he called was the Cardinals’ 13-10 win over Tampa Bay in Week 4 of 2013.

They lost both games that Steratore called as a field judge in 2004.

Road teams have won 45.2 percent of games that Steratore has refereed dating back to 2006. This season, road teams have won 40 percent of Steratore’s games and have been flagged for 55 penalties by his crew, compared to 67 flags for home teams.

Through 11 weeks this season, road teams have won 41.9 percent of games throughout the NFL.

Under Steratore’s watchful eye this season, his crew has called 52 penalties against defenses, 49 against offenses and 21 on special teams.

The Cardinals have been flagged 69 times -- 60 of which were accepted -- for 21 different types of penalties by Steratore’s crews in his 10 games as referee. Of the accepted penalties, 30 were called against the offense, 23 against the defense, and seven against special teams. The most flags by Steratore’s crew in a Cardinals game were 11 against Tampa Bay in 2013, and the fewest were four at San Francisco in 2008.

Steratore’s crew has flagged Arizona 14 times for false starts, nine for offensive holding, eight for defensive holding, and six for unnecessary roughness.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Sam Acho was added Thursday to this week’s injury report with a neck injury. He was listed as limited.

Other than that, the Cards’ report was status quo.

Receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) didn’t practice for the second straight day.

Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (knee), running back Andre Ellington (hip/foot), running back Robert Hughes (hamstring) and safety Rashad Johnson (back) were all limited at Thursday’s practice.

Linebacker Larry Foote (hip) and nose tackle Dan Williams (elbow) practiced in full.

For the Seattle Seahawks, four players didn’t practice for a second straight day, including running back Marshawn Lynch (back).

Defensive end Michael Bennett (not-injury related) returned to practice in full, as did right cornerback Byran Maxwell (calf), guard James Carpenter (ankle), guards JR Sweezy (thigh) and linebacker Bobby Wagner (toe).
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald hasn't missed a game in seven seasons and he's "optimistic" that streak won't end Sunday in Seattle.

He was limited in practice for the second straight day and wasn't participating during the portion open to the media. Fitzgerald, who suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee Sunday against Detroit, was wearing sweatpants with a sweatshirt under his jersey.

[+] EnlargeFitzgerald
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriLarry Fitzgerald said he is confident enough with backup quarterback Drew Stanton to not practice the game plan this week.
"I did a little bit more than I did yesterday," Fitzgerald said. "It's feeling a little better."

Fitzgerald last missed a game in Week 13 of 2007 -- since then he's played in 110 straight games, the second-longest active streak among wide receivers in the NFL behind the Tennessee Titans' Nate Washington at 138.

"I'm going to do everything I can to get out there," he said. "That's just how I'm wired."

Even if that means playing without practicing.

Fitzgerald has four days until kickoff, but he's comfortable enough with the game plan to take the field without having practiced it during the week. Fitzgerald's consecutive-games streak does include two missed starts -- Week 3 in 2010 and Week 5 this season -- but he played in both games.

His approach to playing without practice might have differed if Drew Stanton had not started four games this season, but Fitzgerald has expressed his confidence in and comfort with Stanton, the career backup who replaced Carson Palmer as Arizona's starter last week following Palmer's ACL injury.

"I actually haven't run some of the plays but there's nothing different," Fitzgerald said. "Mentally, I know my sights, I know my hots. I'm very familiar with Seattle's personnel and their schemes and everything like that.

"I don't think that would be an issue."

Even though Arizona is in control of the NFC West and the conference as a whole, and owns the NFL's best record, Fitzgerald won't let the long-term influence his decision to play Sunday. If Arizona wins in Seattle, it'll take a four-game lead on Seattle with five left in the regular season.

But he said it's still too early to start focusing on seeding -- heading into the weekend, Arizona would own the No. 1 seed in the NFC, which brings with it home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

"I don't look at it [as] you miss this game, you can do this," he said. "That's not how we look at it around here."

Fitzgerald wouldn't say if he'll be a game-time decision, just that he's taking it day-by-day and will continue his rehab.

"It's a rough game, it's a rough business," Fitzgerald said. "You look around the league and you see every week somebody's getting dinged up and banged around. It's rough.

"Not like I haven't played through a lot of different things."
video

The NFL Live crew make their picks for Arizona at Seattle.
video

ESPN Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss discusses how the Cardinals are preparing for the Seahawks in the event that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald can't play, how they will deal with the crowd noise and how to limit Marshawn Lynch's production.
TEMEP, Ariz. -- Even though it was a long shot for the Arizona Cardinals to be awarded their waiver claim on running back Ben Tate, it made sense for them take a shot at him.

Tate
Tate
ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates reported that Arizona was one of three teams to place a claim on Tate. Because they have the best record in the NFL, Cardinals are awarded waiver claims last. Tate was claimed by the Minnesota Vikings.

Even though his numbers this season were down and reports have stated that the Cleveland Browns' decision to release him was football based, Tate was productive in the area the Cardinals needed him most: inside the red zone.

In four NFL seasons, 13 of Tate's 14 career touchdowns have come in the red zone, including all four this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. All 10 of his touchdowns the past three seasons have come on runs inside the 20.

At 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds, he's a power back that would've been more effective than Jonathan Dwyer inside the 20.

It's a role that Tate would've flourished in for the Cardinals, who've ran for 53 yards and six touchdowns on 32 carries inside the red zone this year. Alone, Tate ran 24 times for 74 yards and four scores this season.

For his career, Tate has scored on 13.9 percent of runs inside the 20 -- a number that jumped to 16.6 percent this season. That's the same percentage as Cardinals' starter Andre Ellington, who's scored three times on 18 carries in the red zone. The Cardinals' next most carries inside the 20 was Jonathan Dwyer with five. He hasn't played since Week 2.

As a team in 2014, the Cardinals have scored on 18.8 percent of red zone runs.

Adding Tate would've taken some of the pressure and stress off Ellington's body, and would've given Arizona a consistent presence inside the 20.

It's clear by their pursuit that the Cardinals weren't overly concerned with any of Tate's reported off-field issues. The locker room culture in Arizona would've policed Tate causing him to either change his attitude or led the Cardinals to bail on the experiment.
TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Matt Shaughnessy returned to practice Wednesday after missing six weeks because of surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee, but he’s not eligible to play in a game until Arizona hosts Kansas City in Week 14.

Between now and then, Shaughnessy, who had nine tackles in four games, believes he’ll be able to get back into game shape.

Shaughnessy
“I mean I’ll be working with [strength and conditioning coach] Buddy [Morris], so I’m pretty sure he’ll whip me back in shape,” Shaughnessy said.

He said he’ll take it slow to start this week, but he can’t predict how much rust he’ll have to knock off.

“I pushed it pretty hard, but you can’t simulate playing the game,” Shaughnessy said. “So I’ll get out there and see how it feels and go from there.”

Shaughnessy, who had 36 tackles and three sacks last season, said the past six weeks were difficult but said he’s been around his teammates during his rehab. The Cardinals’ pass rush struggled at first without Shaughnessy, but has 10 of its 14 sacks without him in the last two weeks.

While Shaughnessy’s pass-rushing has been missed, coach Bruce Arians hasn’t spent time dwelling on his absence.

“I don’t worry about the ones that can’t play,” Arians said.

Shaughnessy’s been feeling well enough to practice the last couple of weeks, but he’s antsy to get back on the field in a game situation.

“I just want to be part of the team again and start contributing,” he said.

“It’s been hard. I’ve also been busy rehabbing. I’ve been here been around the guys so it’s not like I’ve been out of it.”
video

ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando delivers stats to help you make a pick for Arizona at Seattle.

SPONSORED HEADLINES