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Arians: Mathieu, Brown and Fitzgerald are back, Nkemdiche is close

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals are dinged up, sure. But in some ways, they are getting healthier.

“Not practicing today, Asa Jackson, Elie Bouka, Alan Ball,” head coach Bruce Arians said prior to the team’s practice Sunday afternoon. “Alex Okafor, who has decided he is going to play with the bicep (tendon injury), it’s just a matter of getting the pain tolerance before we get him out there.

“Gabe Martin, Shaq Riddick, Ed Stinson and Robert Nkemdiche — he’s real close, but he’s not quite ready yet. All the rest of the guys are practicing. How much they practice — Ty (Mathieu), Justin (Bethel), Frostee (Rucker) — we’ll see.

“(Mike) Iupati, (Earl) Watford, (Antoine) McClain and Brit Golden, they’re out.”

Get all that?

That’s 12 players who will not be on the field Sunday, and of that group, only Iupati comes as a surprise. Arians said the Pro Bowl guard has a sore knee, but otherwise did not seem that concerned. He also noted the hope is to have Nkemdiche back Wednesday in at least some capacity.

With that out of the way, there’s also the matter of who the Cardinals are getting back.

Receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who missed Wednesday’s practice and then the preseason tilt with the Chargers, will return. John Brown, who has been out for a few weeks with a concussion, was finally cleared to return, too.

“Really, really good,” Arians said of what it means to have Brown on the field. “Try to get him back in shape so he doesn’t pull a muscle.”

Mathieu, Bethel and Rucker were activated from the PUP list last week, though neither got on the practice field when the Cardinals were working with the San Diego Chargers.

“They’ll be in individual periods, and we’ll see how that progresses, whether they do anything else,” Arians said of the trio.

The sooner each can get back, the better the Cardinals will be.

Arians said Bethel should not be too far behind with the mental side of things, so the question is how quickly he can get back into the swing of things.

“It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it,” Arians said.

As for Mathieu, who has been itching to return ever since tearing his ACL in Week 15 of last season, Arians would not say the defensive back’s passion has returned. Either way, it’s nice to have him back, the coach said.

“It takes a little time to get in passion shape too,” he added with a smile.

But Arians said there’s no doubt the PUP list players getting back now could put them on track to be ready for Week 1 against the Patriots, so long as their football conditioning can return.

“Hitting and getting their pad level down, and all those things we’ve been doing for 15, 18 days.”

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