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Dealing Cards: Karlos Dansby to the rescue, John Brown’s health improves

LISTEN: Karlos Dansby, Cardinals linebacker

GLENDALE, Ariz. – No position group struggled in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Chicago Bears more than inside linebacker.

Of course, the Arizona Cardinals were playing without their starters, Karlos Dansby and Deone Bucannon. Dansby missed the game with a leg injury and Bucannon remains on the physically unable to perform list following offseason ankle surgery.

Dansby has seen limited action in the preseason, though that may change this week when the Cardinals visit Atlanta

“To get out there and get in the mix, I think this team will be a great challenge for me,” he said. “They got a lot of explosive players all around the field, so it will give me a chance to show my versatility against tight ends, running backs. Just get in the mix and let the guys feel my presence, be on the field and get in to the swing of things.”

Dansby returned to practice on Monday. He wasn’t a full participant, but he did see his most reps since likely before the Red & White Practice on July 29.

“I felt cool. It was good, man. Get back in the swing of things; had a little fun out there,” he said, despite his disappointment over a dropped interception.

The Cardinals are counting on Dansby this season. They want him to be the anchor of the defense, and perhaps just as important, a mentor to the young linebackers playing behind him, namely rookie Haason Reddick.

“That’s my role,” Dansby said. “I knew that coming into the situation what my responsibilities and my expectations were and what the expectations of the coach and what the team needs from me so I’m up for the challenge.”

Reddick and second-year player Scooby Wright struggled against the Bears, who gashed the Cardinals for 75 rushing yards in the first quarter. Dansby chalked up all the missed tackles to players being out of position. It’s nothing that can’t be corrected, he said.

Looking at the big picture, even given this past week’s problems, Dansby has the utmost confidence in the defense the Cardinals will be putting on the field this season.

“I know. I think you all need to see a few more things but other than that, I know, I know exactly what we got, we all do,” he said. “We just got to fine-tune some things, make sure we all are on the same page and know how each other fit into the puzzle, the piece of the puzzle, and me being on the field this week, it’ll be great.”

More ‘Smoke’ appears

Also practicing after missing the game Saturday was wide receiver John Brown, who appeared to be in better spirits when talking to the media than he was one week ago.

“I feel a lot better, way better than last week,” he said, his voice rising for emphasis.

A quadriceps injury has slowed Brown here in training camp, and though he’s gradually increased his workload in recent practices, he’s still not where he wants to be. It’s been a slow process for Brown, a player the Cardinals expect, and he as well, to have a bounce-back season in 2017.

“It’s tough. It’s real tough but you got guys like Carson (Palmer) and they tell me to take my time. B.A. (Bruce Arians), he’s working with me, he’s trying hard to work with me. I just want to be smart about the situation; just don’t want to jump back out there and have to start over from square one,” he said. “I tried to go last week, but I wasn’t ready. I feel better than I did last week so hopefully I can go this week.”

No. 81 for the Cardinals

After 14 seasons, wide receiver Anquan Boldin called it a career on Sunday. For seven of those seasons, he wore the Cardinals uniform — for six of those he was teammates with Dansby.

“He’s an awesome player, awesome guy. He put some great work out there. The game is going to miss him,” Dansby said. “He felt like it was his time to step away from the game. My hat goes off to him. He was a great teammate. He did a lot of great things in the community. He had a great career.”

Final week of training camp

It was a quick start to the week as the Cardinals were on the practice field, and in full pads, for less than two hours (1:49 to be exact) inside University of Phoenix Stadium on Monday. They’ll enjoy their air conditioned confines for three more days before breaking camp on Thursday.

Among the highlights:

— With Brown not yet 100-percent, the door has opened for Jaron Brown to see more time with the first-team offense. He and Palmer have developed some good chemistry, as evidenced by a back-shoulder completion early in practice. Then, in two-minute work, Palmer found Brown open for a touchdown.

— Perhaps as a reward for his recent play, especially against the Bears, cornerback Brandon Williams received a handful of snaps with the first-team defense.

— It was Zaviar Gooden, who played seven games with the Cardinals last season, lining up next to Reddick when Dansby wasn’t practicing.

— Left guard Mike Iupati was a late arrival to practice. Once on the field, he went over to head athletic trainer Tom Reed to have his right arm looked at. Iupati watched his position group go through individual drills, but during 11-on-11 he was not spotted. In his place, Cole Toner repped with the first-team offense.

— The mobilized tackling dummies made another appearance. It wasn’t long, just enough for the cornerbacks and safeties to work on tackling.

— Before heading out on the road this week, the offense changed its uniform tops to white. The defense wore red. Quarterbacks remained in black.

Injuries

On the injury front, a handful of players returned to practice. Cornerback Rudy Ford (hamstring) had a full day’s work, while wide receivers Aaron Dobson (hamstring) and Brittan Golden (groin) plus linebackers Josh Bynes (hamstring) and Philip Wheeler (foot) dressed out but were limited to running sideline to sideline.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones (back) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (hamstring) remained out.

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