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Justin Bethel, Tony Jefferson step up in increased role

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Bruce Arians praised his players for how played stepping in for starters.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Three players in the Arizona Cardinals secondary saw their role increase in importance on Sunday because of injuries suffered. Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger both started at safety, replacing Tyrann Mathieu, who is out for the rest of the season, and Rashad Johnson, who was really close to playing, but did not. Justin Bethel will play in all nickel packages with Mathieu being out, as Jerraud Powers moves to the slot in those packages.

Bruce Arians was pleased with how all three played.

"D.J. stepped in there and did a good job," Arians said to the media on Monday. "To see he and Tony communicate, because they're not usually the communicators, they're always the listeners and they had to do all the communication and they did a good job."

Arians said "there was no doubt" Bethel would play well, as he did when he stepped in for Powers when he was out.

Bethel did get picked on by Aaron Rodgers.

Pro Football Focus says Bethel allowed seven receptions and he had two penalties, too.

Arians expected him to get targeted. "Sure," he said. "Pat's on the other side."

And Bethel was going to have to cover guys who were being thrown to by one of the best.

"Very few guys can make that throw that Aaron (Rodgers) was making - the back shoulder throw," Arians explained. "I told him, ‘Those aren't going to beat you. You just keep hanging in there,' and he got the big pick on the back shoulder throw."

Bethel will have to continue to work hard. He will be tested throughout the playoffs. Jefferson will continue to start. Rashad Johnson will return, so Jefferson and Swearinger will become listeners again, but it is again a testament to the depth the team has built. What other Cardinals team could do what they did against Aaron Rodgers with that many players out in the secondary?