Safety Quentin Harris, a one-time undrafted free agent, is going to get his first NFL start. Reggie Wells, product of little known Clarion University, is going to see his first NFL action at left tackle.
Such is the aftereffects of the upper respiratory infection that has ravaged the Cardinals this week.
Harris is going to replace Adrian Wilson, who tried to do some work Friday but looked horrible and warned reporters not to get too close when they approached him after the workout.
Defensive tackle Marcus Bell was still absent. Tackle L.J. Shelton, cornerback Emmanuel McDaniel and linebacker Levar Fisher all returned to practice.
"We’re going to have to suit some of these guys because we don’t have the numbers," coach Dave McGinnis said. "Some of these guys that are sick, we will have to spot-play them. They are not going to play this whole football game. They are still weak, that’s how this illness is."
That means Wells will sub for Shelton, which could be interesting given that the Cards are also starting the inexperienced Josh McCown at quarterback.
McGinnis said no roster moves were planned.
"The move I have to make is get these guys back from the bubonic plague, that’s the move," McGinnis said.
As for Harris, he wore a wide smile Friday despite his team’s 3-10 record. By coincidence, his father, mother and stepfather are flying in for the game.
"We all want to win, but me personally, I’m just excited," Harris said. "It’s been since college that I have started a game."
With a victory Sunday against the Cardinals, the Panthers will clinch the NFC South division title. But Cardinals running back Emmitt Smith said that doesn’t change how his team approaches the game.
"Forget spoiler," Smith said. "We are trying to win a game. If it spoils someone else’s season, fine. But they can’t hurt our season no more that it already is."
A PANTHER’S REALITY
The Panthers had a big week this week and it has nothing to do with Sunday’s game. Former Panther defensive back Ryan Sutter — he was promoted from the practice squad in 1998 in late November before getting hurt on the opening kickoff of the only game he ever played — married Trista Rehn on national television, months after Sutter won Rehn’s heart on the ABC show "The Bachelorette."
Former teammate Mike Minter, a safety, laughed this week when asked about the idea of putting his entire courtship and wedding out for public consumption.
"I guess when you’re in love it don’t matter," Minter said. "When you’re in love, you tell the world. It surprised me, because I was thinking too, this guy was quiet, kept to himself, really didn’t say too much and now he’s on national TV getting married."
One big reason the Cardinals are 3-10: Opponents have scored a whopping 127 points off the Cardinals’ 32 turnovers. The Cards, meanwhile, have forced only 15 turnovers and generated a mere 34 points out of them. . . .
The news Friday that Tampa Bay is letting general manager Rich McKay leave without compensation could mean bad news for the Cardinals if they fire McGinnis. McKay will eventually land in Atlanta, which also needs a new coach.
One candidate the Cards would want to look at is St. Louis defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, whom McKay worked with in Tampa and who will be a candidate for the Falcons.
Panthers at Cardinals
When: 2:15 p.m., Sunday
Where: Sun Devil Stadium
Radio: KDUS (1060 AM) and KSLX (100.7 FM)
Records: Panthers 8-5, Cardinals 3-10