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Battered Birds May Return to Flock in Time for Week 7

The Cardinals hope a trio of players, including veteran inside linebacker Gerald Hayes, will be able to return from injuries for the Week 7 contest against Seattle

The Cardinals’ Week 6 bye is more than just an opportunity for Arizona to take a deep breath; it’s a chance to bring back a trio of players that would greatly assist the Cardinals in their effort to create some separation in the division over the next few weeks.  Wide receivers Steve Breaston (knee) and Early Doucet (groin) stand a very good chance of making a full recovery in time for Seattle.  The Cardinals are also hoping that inside linebacker Gerald Hayes will be able to make his season debut.  “All three are proven, very good football players” Whisenhunt said.  All three would obviously provide a big boost on both sides of the ball for the Cards.

Assuming that Breaston and Doucet both come back healthy, rookie Max Komar may be the odd man out on the depth chart.  Larry Fitzgerald obviously remains the number one, Breaston takes back the number two spot, Doucet three, and Stephen Williams would most likely remain on the roster as the fourth receiver.  Andre Roberts would probably round out the receiving core as the fifth man, but his spot on this roster will probably be secured as the punt returner.

The trio of Fitz, Breaston, and Doucet (when all are healthy) is as good as any three in the NFL and would certainly assist Max Hall in his effort to continue his winning ways.  There’s another trio, though, that the Cardinals were able to lean on early this year.  The trio of rookies consisting of Komar, Roberts, and Williams really did a remarkable job by seeing the Cardinals through a wide receiver crisis.  Other less talented receiving cores may not have been able to absorb such adversity, but with Fitzgerald’s leadership and the impressive play of the talented rookies, the Cardinals were able to not only plug the dam, but actually get production.  The rookie trio has combined for 14 receptions worth 159 yards.  Those numbers won’t pin anyone’s ears back, but considering the pressure they were under, how inexperienced they are, and the shaky quarterback play, it’s actually quite impressive.

On the other side of the ball, the defense desperately needs Gerald Hayes to come back at full strength as quickly as possible.  Whether he will come back is less of a question mark than how effectively he will be able to play.  The Cardinals’ four-year starter has been recovering from back surgery since July and hasn’t tested himself on the field in earnest yet.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, however, reports that Hayes was ready to start practicing weeks ago, but the PUP rules do not allow Hayes to start until this week.  Perhaps, therefore, Hayes is further along than his amount of practice might suggest.

Somers believes (and it makes good sense) that Hayes will at first be rotated in as a situational player, taking some snaps from Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington according to the down and distance.  Gerald is believed to be activated later this week barring any setbacks.  A Cardinals’ defense that ranks 28th in the NFL in rushing (allowing 140.8 yards/game) needs him to recover as quickly as possible.

Along with Hayes, rookie linebacker O’Brien Schofield is also inching closer to finding his way back onto the field after tearing his ACL in February of this year during a Senior Bowl practice.  Somers reports that Schofield did agility drills with a helmet on last week and looked “quick.”  The Cardinals are hoping that the former Wisconsin Badger will make his NFL debut this year.  Whether he does or not, Schofield is being groomed to eventually play the outside linebacker spot in the Cards’ 3-4 scheme.  Schofield, however, remains a few weeks away from practicing with the team.

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2 Responses to “Battered Birds May Return to Flock in Time for Week 7”

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