The Cardinals might survive cornerback Eric Green’s ankle injury. Saying they “got lucky” with the injury Green suffered in practice Thursday, coach Ken Whisenhunt listed him as questionable for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati. Green only had a mild sprain, the coach said.
Green’s status is important because the Bengals have such a high-powered passing game. The Cardinals might have to make a roster move if Green can’t go.
They also could start the improving Antrel Rolle, who has been playing well in a reserve role after losing his starting spot in training camp.
Whisenhunt said, “I’ve been very impressed with his attention to detail and the way he’s played.
“I feel very good — if he had to play this week in a starting role — that he would do a good job.”
Also, safeties Adrian Wilson (heel, calf) and Aaron Francisco (knee) continue to improve and are listed as questionable as well, though Francisco had said he would probably wait one more week to return.
For the Bengals, tackle Willie Anderson is out, while a host of players are listed as probable.
Steve Breaston’s two long kick returns Sunday emphasized what seems increasingly clear about today’s NFL — there seem to be more outstanding kick returners making more big plays.
Whisenhunt speculated teams are placing more emphasis on finding kick returners because, “everything seems so close in this league. Teams that can win the field position battle certainly have a leg up.
“One of the things we really needed coming into this season was a returner, somebody who could be a factor.”
In addition to his big-play ability, Breaston has outstanding hands. He hasn’t fumbled away a kick.
“One of the things we’ve felt really good about is his ability to catch and secure the ball. That’s always a concern,” Whisenhunt said.
After he makes the catch, “He’s a strong physical runner who can get yards after contact. I’m excited about his improvement.”
NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE
Among the players who can take a bow for the Cardinals’ record-setting run defense on Sunday are nose tackles Gabe Watson and Alan Branch.
They are the run-stuffing center of a defensive line that held Detroit to minus-18 yards rushing, the lowest total since the NFL adopted its current statistical rules in 1947,
“Both of those guys are playing pretty productively now,” Whisenhunt said.
Even though Watson lost weight in the offseason, playing 60 snaps a game is difficult for a 340-pounder, he said.
So Branch, the team’s No. 2 draft pick, is becoming more of a factor in backing up Watson, his former college teammate at Michigan, without having a drop-off in performance.
“I noticed Alan on the field a couple times where he really showed up,” Whisenhunt said. “It’s nice to have a player of Alan’s caliber who is growing and learning and getting better every week.”
Just because he’s continuing to play doesn’t mean quarterback Kurt Warner’s damaged left elbow is improving.
“It’s pretty much the same,” Warner said.
“It doesn’t feel much better. I’m still not sleeping well at night. I don’t know when it’s going to get better.”
Warner said he’s pretty much resigned himself to wearing a brace on his left elbow the rest of the season.
“The great thing is the swelling is down” and that he’s able to move better with the brace.
“But it would be nice to get rid of the pain completely and just go out and play.”