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Dealing Cards: Bucannon right on schedule, Houston in players’ thoughts

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler stiff arms Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 in Chicago. (Steve Lundy/Daily Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT
LISTEN: Bruce Arians, Cardinals head coach

TEMPE, Ariz. – Back in Tempe and back on the practice field, the Arizona Cardinals welcomed back dollar linebacker Deone Bucannon on Monday.

Bucannon was limited to individual drills, but it marked his first on-field work alongside his teammates since undergoing offseason ankle surgery.

“He did OK,” head coach Bruce Arians said.

Bucannon was not present in the locker room during media availability.

Last week, Bucannon was activated off the physically unable to perform list, allowing him to participate in walk-throughs. The plan is, and has always been, for Bucannon to get a handful of practices under his belt before the start of the regular season.

“He’s right on schedule,” Arians said. “Just see how he progresses each day. He’s still a little stiff. He’s got to get in football shape real fast.”

Arians added it was too early to say whether or not Bucannon would be available Week 1 at Detroit.

If healthy, Bucannon is expected to start next to Karlos Dansby at inside linebacker, a spot he’s excelled at in each of his first three seasons in the league.

For two straight seasons now Bucannon has led the team in tackles. A year ago, he recorded 100 in 13 games, missing the final three games after being placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. When the injury did not respond well enough to rehab, Bucannon and the Cardinals opted for surgery in June.

Is there a roster spot for Chris Johnson?

The Cardinals are likely to keep four running backs on the 53-man roster. David Johnson and Kerwynn Williams, the latter of whom will handle both the kickoff and punt return duties, are locks.

That leaves Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson and Elijhaa Penny fighting for two spots.

Ellington and Johnson don’t play special teams, while Penny has improved in that area and at 234 pounds gives the Cardinals some size at the position. Ellington has looked good in the preseason. Johnson has not.

In Atlanta on Saturday, he fumbled twice, losing one, and dropped a pass.

“It didn’t help his cause,” Arians told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station.

Johnson did finish the game strong with 31 yards on six carries, including back-to-back runs of nine and 10 yards.

“Yeah I think so; getting better and better,” he answered when asked if he had shown enough to make the roster. “Me running the ball never really has been a problem, but I think I’ve shown my hands have gotten better, catching the ball better and those type of things so I think I’ve really done all I can do.”

Johnson, who is 463 rushing yards shy of 10,000 for his career, is not expected to play in the preseason finale at Denver on Thursday.

“It’s going to be a tough decision for that spot,” Arians said of the running back position.

Cardinals with an eye on Houston

Though more than 1,100 miles away, the flooding in Houston caused by Tropical Storm Harvey is hitting close to home, literally, for a handful of Cardinals players.

Wide Receiver Brittan Golden posted a video, sent to him by his neighbors, to social media of water inching closer and closer to his house.

The good news is Golden’s family had left the area last Friday.

“As long as everybody is safe I’m not really worried about it,” he said, referring to any possible damage inside the home. “I can replace all that stuff.”

Offensive lineman Givens Price, too, calls Houston home. All his family and friends are safe.

“At this point,” he said, looking at his phone for the latest information, “all I can do is pray and hope that my family members and every resident in Houston is staying safe as possible.”

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