TEMPE, Ariz. — Finally.
When the Arizona Cardinals take the field against the St. Louis Rams Sunday afternoon in Glendale, their prized 2015 free agent acquisition will be with them.
“Mike is full, so he will be starting at left guard,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians announced Friday.
Mike, of course, is Mike Iupati, the former San Francisco 49er whom Arizona signed to a five-year contract in March, one that is worth up to $40 million.
He has yet to take the field for a game with his new team, though, as in August he underwent surgery during training camp to repair the meniscus in his left knee. He has been back on the practice field, at least in a limited capacity, for the last few weeks, but didn’t feel like he was quite ready to until now.
“I’m ready,” he declared Friday. “That’s why I practiced from two weeks ago all the way down, just to get the rust out.
“But it is what it is, you just have to go out and play football.”
One player who is hoping to join Iupati on the field against the Rams is running back Andre Ellington. Out since spraining his PCL in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints, the third-year pro practiced all week on a limited basis and was declared a game-time decision by Arians.
“I feel good,” Ellington said Friday. “I got better each day. Still not right where I want to be, but hopefully I feel good on game day and I’ll be able to get out there.”
Asked if he thinks he will play, Ellington said he does not see why not. The ultimate decision will be up to the coaches and trainers, but the running back said if he can run and feel like himself, then he’ll feel good about suiting up.
When he does get back, Ellington said he will be wearing a brace on his knee. He said it restricts him a little, but not enough to hold him back. What could hold him back is his role.
Arians said Ellington isn’t “full speed enough to be a starter,” and with the way veteran Chris Johnson has been running, it makes sense to be cautious.
But Ellington said he is confident in his cuts as well as his readiness to play.
“It’s up to coach,” he said. “It’s his decision whether he wants me out there. If he does, I’ll be ready to go. I’ve prepared, I prepared with the team and the offense as if I was playing, so we’ll see.”
- The 5: Father-son sports duos and their ties to Arizona
- Cardinals’ Chase Edmonds plans to pay off sister’s student loans
- Cardinals sign WR Greg Little, release Cobi Hamilton
- Rosenthal’s NFL division power rankings: NFC West third-best
- Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks: We got better this offseason