Having missed six games with a back injury and far from a return to 100 percent, kicker Bill Gramatica was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season.
Coach Dave McGinnis said the team needs another linebacker for special teams, so a second kicker on the roster was a luxury the team no longer could afford. The Cardinals re-signed linebacker Michael Young, who played all 16 games last season and was one of the final cuts before this season started.
The Cards held out hope Gramatica could return, especially when his initial replacement, Tim Duncan, was erratic. But Gramatica didn’t get healthy, and the Cards dumped Duncan last week in favor of Neil Rackers.
Rackers booted a pair of field goals Sunday in a 44-6 loss in Cleveland, one of the Cards’ few bright spots on the day.
“He made me comfortable,” McGinnis said. “There weren’t very many good things that were happening in that ballgame, but his performance was a good thing.”
The move may signal the end of Gramatica’s tenure with the team after the Cards surprisingly spent a fourth-round draft pick on him in 2001. This will be the second time in three seasons Gramatica will finish the season on injured reserve. He blew out his knee celebrating a field goal in his rookie year.
Gramatica will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and the Cards may let him walk away if Rackers impresses during his seven-game audition. If nothing else, it seems likely the Cards would want Rackers to compete with Gramatica in training camp next season. Rackers will also be a free agent at the end of the season.
“I am here to help the team and obviously they had to do all this stuff (with roster moves) because I am hurt, so I feel bad and feel like I am hurting the team in a way,” Gramatica said last week.
DOUSING THE FIRE
Asked if he was concerned about a lack of effort following a comment by cornerback Renaldo Hill after the game Sunday — “it seemed like the fire died out of (the defense)” after the Browns had 10 points — McGinnis said "no."
“We just weren’t making any plays and that will make you lose your fire,” McGinnis said. “Fire is not a real good word to use . . . you lose your fire you might be fired.
“The effort is not a question on this football team. The execution the last two weeks has been a huge question.”
McGinnis admitted that the receiving corps, outside of rookie star Anquan Boldin, has not been getting open enough.
“Not consistently enough,” he added. “You are not going to get open all the time, but it needs to be more than they have been. We know all the (excuses) about youth and this and that. But when it comes to game time, we’re out of youth now, we’re into having to do it.”
McGinnis said defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, who was in Ohio on Tuesday for his father’s funeral, will return to work today. . . .
Along with running back Emmitt Smith (fractured shoulder blade), linebacker Gerald Hayes (torn labrum) will also attempt to practice some this week, McGinnis said. As for receiver Jason McAddley, out since the third game of the season with a bad hamstring, McGinnis said he is just now to the point where he can try to run again.
“He’s not practicing yet,” McGinnis said. “We are running out of time.” . . .
The Cards have distributed 37,702 tickets for Sunday’s game against St. Louis, meaning a television blackout is probable. . . .
Defensive tackle Talifaia Atoe, who was on injured reserve, was released.