The Cardinals had their roster in motion again Friday after an old back injury to kicker Bill Gramatica flared up.
With Gramatica sidelined — he missed practice Friday while getting treatment — the Cardinals re-signed Tim Duncan as insurance. Needing a roster spot, the Cards made a somewhat surprising cut, dumping receiver Larry Foster.
Foster, acquired in a draft day trade from the Lions for a seventh-round pick, had won one of the two starting receiving jobs to begin the season and had a relationship with offensive coordinator Jerry Sullivan from their days in Detroit.
Foster sprained his left ankle in the season opener (coincidentally, in Detroit) after making one catch and hasn’t played since. It was expected the wideout starters would eventually be rookies Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson, and injuries to Foster, Bryan Gilmore (knee) and Kevin Kasper (back) sped up the process.
But Gilmore made it back last week and Kasper, whose back injury was considered serious, has returned. Meanwhile, Foster couldn’t seem to get over the ankle problem and dropped on the depth chart, so much so that Nathan Poole — who was cut at the end of camp — remains on the roster ahead of Foster. Foster received an injury settlement from the team.
Gramatica, meanwhile, still could kick Sunday in Dallas. At least, that’s what Duncan expects.
“This is not the situation I want to be here for, but I just want to play ball,” said Duncan, who has been a final training camp cut of the Cardinals the past two seasons. “I’m sure Bill will find a way to play.”
Gramatica was unavailable for comment, but he apparently had suffered some back problems last season. The injury was worse Thursday night than Friday, coach Dave McGinnis said.
CARDS EXTEND CONTRACTS
The Cardinals began to use some of their $12.5 million in salary cap space, announcing late Friday afternoon the contract extensions of linebacker Raynoch Thompson and punter Scott Player.
Thompson’s deal is for four more seasons, through 2007. Player’s deal secures him through 2005. Financial details were not available. Both would have been free agents at the end of the season. Thompson was the Cards’ defensive MVP last season. Player, a Pro Bowl selection in 2000, leads the NFC in punting.
“This is something we planned for,” vice president of football operations Rod Graves said. “We’re hoping to get others accomplished as well.”
Other targets include tackle L.J. Shelton and cornerback David Barrett.
Safety Adrian Wilson has Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter to thank for his best game as a pro. Last season, during the Cards’ 9-6 overtime win at Sun Devil Stadium against the Cowboys, Wilson intercepted three Carter passes and sacked Carter once. Carter was so bad he lost his starting job because of that game.
But Carter, under new coach Bill Parcells, is a different quarterback. “I don’t know what it was (last year),” Wilson said. “He’s much more disciplined this year, so that plays a huge factor.”
Carter, who has compiled 58.0 and 65.2 quarterback ratings in two career games against Arizona, said he is reading defenses better. Parcells acknowledged Carter is improving, although “we haven’t let too many links out of that choke collar yet,” Parcells added.
But Parcells scoffed at Carter’s history against the Cards, saying it meant nothing.
Thompson (knee) sat out Friday but is expected to play Sunday. Defensive tackle Wendell Bryant (ankle), receiver Jason McAddley (hamstring) and defensive lineman Kenny King (toe) remain out.
McGinnis didn’t sound thrilled with the amount of cushion his defensive backs gave to St. Louis receivers last week. The Cardinals are expected to be more aggressive on defense against Dallas.
“I don’t like to give cushion in anything,” McGinnis said. “I don’t know where soft fits in in professional football.”