TEMPE, Ariz. – Ask Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers if he is playing this week and he answers emphatically.
“I’ll be out there for sure; yeah, I’ll be out there for sure,” he said Wednesday after practice.
Now ask the head coach the same question.
“I feel good about Jerraud,” Bruce Arians said.
OK, it certainly sounds as if the Cardinals will get their starting cornerback back Sunday when they visit the Philadelphia Eagles in yet another primetime affair.
That’s certainly good news, especially considering their other starting cornerback, Patrick Peterson, did not practice Wednesday. He was out with an ankle injury, as was starting safety Rashad Johnson.
Arians, though, didn’t appear too concerned about either’s status moving forward.
Powers, meanwhile, returned to practice, albeit on a limited basis. He had missed the past two weeks with a strained calf he suffered in the third quarter at San Francisco.
“It’s important. Any of our core guys, we want those guys on the field,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said, referring to Powers. “He helps us out a lot. I know me personally he helps me out a bunch, so just having him on the field with me takes a lot of stress off of me.”
The two-week absence felt more like two months, according to Powers.
And, yes, sitting and watching was frustrating, Powers admitted, but at no point did he feel a need to rush back because, “we got guys that can play and guys have been playing well in the secondary.”
It was Justin Bethel who stepped in for Powers.
Bethel played every defensive snap (118 total) in his back-to-back starts, registering three tackles and two passes defensed against St. Louis and a career-high seven tackles against Minnesota.
“He played great. He definitely earned it, too. He’s worked hard,” Powers said. “I was happy to see him get that shot. He’s been waiting to get that shot for a long time, so I was happy that he was able to prove people that he can play corner. He’s not just a special teams guy, so hopefully he can get that he’s a special teams-type guy tag off his name a little bit. He made some plays the last couple of games at corner and hopefully he continues to build (on that) and continues to make plays for us.”
As good as Bethel played, however, Arians made it clear Powers would regain his starting gig, if healthy.
For Powers, the Cardinals’ eighth-leading tackler, the time off may have been a blessing.
“I didn’t want to be hurt, but when you are hurt it kind of gives you time to catch your breath a little bit, regather your thoughts, get your body right the way it needs to be, especially in the stretch that we’re heading into. These last three games are very important, this one in particular. We can clinch our division which is big,” he said.
“I don’t want to say it was a two-week bye just because (the training staff) had me in (the facility) doing some of everything, but it was almost like a few days just to get your mind right and get ready to go.”
Powers returns against an Eagles team that’s won two in a row, putting them back in the thick of the NFC East playoff race.
Philadelphia likes to run an up-tempo offense, which places pressure on opposing defenses.
Powers, though, sounded more concerned about what awaits the Cardinals weather-wise rather than football-wise.
Temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 30s to low 40s at game time.
“I care. I do. I’m from Alabama,” he said, drawing laughter. “I would rather it not be (cold). Like I thought today was freezing at practice. I had on a hoody, a warm jacket under my hoody and a t-shirt and some sweats, at that, so I thought it was freezing.
“Once the kickoff starts and you get to running around a little bit, you kind of don’t notice the temperature until you come back out of halftime and you realize how cold it still is. But once we get out there playing the temperature and the body heat and all that stuff, it won’t be a factor.”
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