Despite yesterday being the annual movie day (the morning practice was canceled) for the Arizona Cardinals, there was still quite a bit of news coming out of NFC Champ Camp. The biggest, and worst, news is that Chris Wells 'tweaked' the same ankle that he sprained a couple of weeks ago and could not finish practice. The re-injury happened on a running play when Darnell Dockett knifed into the backfield and, even though Wells said that he felt minimal pain at the time, he was unable to run a short flare route just a few plays later. On the play he was Warner's hot read and after a couple of labored steps, Beanie slowed to a walk and watched the rest of the practice from the sidelines. He insisted after practice that he hopes to ready for Saturday's game against the Chargers, but given his short amount of practice time and the obvious weakness in that ankle, it seems like hope may be all that he has at this point.
- In other injury news there were three new additions to the 'walking wounded' group. Bryant McFadden, Bryan Robinson and Ali Highsmith watched yesterday's practice and while none of the three injuries are considered serious, Highsmith was wearing a walking boot. Keilen Dykes and Elliot Vallejo still remain sidelined and Michael Ray Garvin is expected to undergo surgery on his knee either today or tomorrow. Gerald Hayes also missed practice but his absence was excused for a family issue.
- One name that you won't find on the injury report any more is Dennis Keyes and that's because he was officially put on the injured/waved list. To fill Keyes' spot on the roster and add another warm body to the suddenly thin corps at wide receiver, the team signed Steve Sanders. After being undrafted in 2006, Sanders spent the next three seasons with the Browns bouncing back and forth between their active roster and practice squad. He appeared in five regular season games last year for the Lions, catching one pass, but finished the season on the practice squad. The Lions signed him to a futures contract in January but then cut him in May. Sanders resurfaced when he was drafted by the New York Sentinels (United Football League) and he signed with them on August 5th. Sanders has good size (6-3, 201) but we all know that the odds are very long for any receiver on this team.
- In case you were worried about Antrel Rolle's ability to hold onto the ball on punt returns, maybe he has a legitimate excuse. In his latest blog entry, Rolle blames the use of a thick Japanese Cherry Blossom lotion that he uses on his arms to keep him warm and loose during games. Apparently he forgot that he was returning punts until after he used the lotion so we'll see if he's more careful with the ball once he ditches the lotion.
- Fielding punts, in the abcense of Breaston and Garvin, were Lance Long and Rolle. Any way that Long can find to contribute on special teams would greatly help his chances of making the squad.
- At least for last night's practice LaRod Stephens-Howling was running as the team's third down back, ahead of Jason Wright. It's unknown if he's actually jumped Wright on the depth chart but his ability to pick up a blitzer will be very key. LSH was impressive against the Steelers and this might just be a new battle developing.
Alan Branch has mentioned to reporters that the coaching staff has talked about letting him get some snaps at defensive end if he continues to lose weight. While some would argue that giving an underachieving player more responsibility doesn't make much sense, I'd argue that this is a sign that the team might be giving up on him as a nose tackle. Defensive end is a much less demandning position in a 3-4 defense and he'd have a better chance to be successful, especially at his size, in a position that is less demanding.
- In the tight end race, Leonard Pope seems to be losing ground. Many reported that Pope short-armed a pass from Leinart on the fourth down attempt against the Steelers when the ball was thrown high and Pope failed to go up for the ball with any authority. Whether or not Pope got 'alligator arms' on a high pass because he was scared of taking a big hit, the fact remains that Pope hasn't been impressing very many people in practice recently and he'll need to improve in order keep a spot on the 53 man roster.