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NFC Team Notes: Cardinals not ruling out Skelton

The SportsXchange

Arizona: Coach Ken Whisenhunt won't rush to name a starter for Sunday's game at New England with QB John Skelton making rapid improvement. Skelton left the Cardinals win over Seattle on a cart with an ankle injury. "We still have a few days until the game. A lot of it is going to depend on how John (Skelton's) ankle as it's improving, continues to improve," Whisenhunt said Wednesday. "We feel very fortunate that it was just an ankle sprain and a low ankle sprain at that. And he's getting better quickly so we feel very luck about that."

Atlanta: The Falcons will see a lot of three- and four-receiver packages Monday night against the Broncos. Without CB Brent Grimes (Achilles), the pecking order behind starters Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson is up in the air. Christopher Owens, a third-rounder in 2009, and Robert McClain -- a seventh-round pick in 2010 -- are both 5-foot-9 and don't match up with Denver's top two receivers, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. Owens has the ideal makeup of a nickel corner. "Chris is a very resilient guy," coach Mike Smith said. "He's going to get an opportunity to be back in it in a different role this week than what he played last week."

Carolina: RB Jonathan Stewart (right ankle) missed the opener at Tampa, the first game since signing a five-year, $36.5 million extension in August. Coach Ron Rivera said Stewart looked himself Wednesday and would be part of the rotation with DeAngelo Williams and FB Mike Tolbert after the Buccaneers limited Carolina to 10 rushing yards on Sunday. "The run game just wasn't very good, wasn't very decisive," said center Ryan Kalil.

Chicago: MLB Brian Urlacher returned to practice Wednesday. Coach Lovie Smith held Urlacher out of Tuesday's practice as part of a pre-prescribed maintenance schedule to limit wear and tear on Urlacher's left knee. He missed only 14 plays last season but sat for part of the third and all of the fourth quarter in the opener. Urlacher, 34, didn't show his usual burst out of his stance or smooth drop into coverage.

Dallas: RB DeMarco Murray widened the gap separating him from backup RB Felix Jones. Jones logged 12 snaps while Murray totaled 140 yards, including 131 yards on 20 carries, in Week 1. Coach Jason Garrett said there's still a vital role for Jones. "DeMarco Murray is our starter at tailback," Garrett said. "And there's definitely a role for Felix, and we like what he does for our offense both in the run game and in the pass game. Depending on how the game goes, he's going to get more touches or fewer touches, but he's a big part of what we're trying to do."

Detroit: Corrected NFL stats on Thursday credited DE Cliff Avril for his first sack of the season, which gave the Lions four sacks of Rams QB Sam Bradford. Avril hit Bradford on the game's last play, on which the NFL eventually credited him for a quarterback sack. Avril, playing under terms of his $10.6 million franchise tender in 2012, has 10 sacks in his last 10 games.

Green Bay: WR Donald Driver, the franchise's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, will be ready to go tonight after he was on the field for just three snaps in Sunday's loss to San Francisco. Head coach Mike McCarthy didn't rule Greg Jennings (groin) out -- he's doubtful -- but reminded reporters that Driver and the team's other four wide receivers are trained to play every wide receiver position in every formation for a reason.

Minnesota: The Vikings went with rookie sixth-round pick Blair Walsh because of his leg strength. Walsh made four field goals, including a 55-yarder, in his NFL debut. Coach Leslie Frazier said the Vikings were comfortable giving Walsh a field-goal attempt if the ball was advanced to about the 43 or 45, which would have been a 60- or 62-yard attempt. Walsh, according to Frazier, made a 68-yard field goal during training camp in Mankato with a breeze at his back.

New Orleans: The Saints placed WR Adrian Arrington on injured reserve with chronic knee issues and signed veteran Greg Camarillo. Arrington was ticketed for the No. 4 receiver role this season and the Saints lack of depth was apparent in Sunday's loss to Washington. Speedster Joe Morgan dropped two passes in his NFL debut and Courtney Roby returned a blocked punt for a touchdown but didn't play a down on offense. Arrington missed all five preseason games following meniscus surgery. Camarillo and Barrett Ruud, who was activated to the 53-man roster in time to practice Wednesday, are expected to play Sunday at Carolina.

New York Giants: RB David Wilson, the team's first-round pick, was benched after fumbling on his second career carry in his debut on opening night. Wilson has responded well in practice according to coach Tom Coughlin, but is he out of the doghouse? "Well, he's a little out of the doghouse," Coughlin said Wednesday. For his part, Wilson -- who had seven fumbles and lost four in 2011 at Virginia Tech -- spent most of the past week working on a ball security drill he's done since high school. He also hinted he'd be on kickoff returns. "It's coming," Wilson said.

Philadelphia: Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett was released Tuesday. The 54th pick in the 2011 draft is the highest pick in that draft to be released other than Colts offensive lineman Ben Ijalana (49th). Ijalana was the 49th pick but tore his ACL twice in two years. Coach Andy Reid told the Inquirer "I misevaluated that. I think one of the key things is when you make a mistake for your system that you correct it, and you can't let your ego get in the way of that."

St. Louis: No guarantee he'll be ready for Sunday's demanding matchup with OLB Brian Orakpo, but LT Rodger Saffold surprised some teammates by taking the practice field in a limited capacity on Wednesday. He was carted off the field Sunday at Detroit with what was called a "significant neck strain" after X-rays. The Rams already used their marquee injured reserve slot for C Scott Wells, who signed a four-year, $24 million to leave the Packers in the offseason.

San Francisco: Including three preseason and two postseason games since QB Alex Smith's last interception Thanksgiving night 2011 at Baltimore, he's gone 10 games without throwing a pick. While many credit coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers' top-ranked defense, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said Smith is to blame. "Gotta have a really smart quarterback to do it, and Alex Smith is a smart quarterback," Schwartz said Wednesday. "... I don't think it's any coincidence that the 49ers went 13-3 last year and also led the NFL in turnover margin."

Seattle: The Seahawks will be prepared for all of their visitors Sunday -- the Cowboys and the crew of replacement officials. Coach Pete Carroll confessed his coaching staff broke down all four weeks of preseason game film to find tendencies in the crew coming to CenturyLink Field. We have extended the way we look at the officials," Carroll said. "We video those guys and show (players the) video of the officials and the calls that they made during the week just to make sure our guys are aware of the kinds of calls that different crews lean towards."

Tampa Bay: Greg Schiano isn't the only coach making a Jersey homecoming Sunday. The Buccaneers found an asset in preparation for Sunday's game at the New York Giants on their very own coaching staff -- offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who counts himself a friend of Eli Manning after serving as quarterbacks coach for eight seasons including 2011. "He's a tremendous coach who pays attention to every little detail," Manning said of Sullivan in February.

Washington: The Redskins had to replace their long snapper because of a broken arm, but that wouldn't be mandatory if QB Robert Griffin III breaks his right (throwing) arm. His father, a lefty, taught him how to throw left-handed. Griffin III said he can throw the ball "30-40 yards" left-handed. While evidence wasn't on tape from his first regular-season start, Griffin III did say he missed just one zone read at New Orleans after checking Sunday's film.

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