Hitting is nothing new to fullback Jarrod Baxter. It just feels that way for the thirdyear veteran after seven weeks away from football.
The 6-foot-2, 233-pound native of Albuquerque, N.M., was released by the Houston Texans on Aug. 30 but was signed by the Cardinals last week to add depth to a position depleted by season-ending knee injuries to James Hodgins and John Bronson.
"The pads are a little high," Baxter said of his rusty blocking technique. "You can work out and do cuts and run, but you can’t hit anything (as a street free agent). So I’ve been hitting the sleds every day, trying to get ready for (game contact)."
How much action Baxter will see when the Cardinals host Tennessee Sunday is unknown. He’s listed as the team’s third-string fullback behind Obafemi Ayanbadejo and Harold Morrow, but he is the only true blocking back of the bunch.
What is known is that he will likely be on special teams and as a lead blocker rather than as a ball carrier. In 24 games and 11 starts over three seasons with Houston, Baxter had 15 touches for 51 yards and one touchdown.
"He definitely brings some depth to that position," running back Marcel Shipp said. "He’s not a one-dimensional guy. He’s going to come in and get the job done for us."
The Cardinals put defensive end Calvin Pace on their nonfootball injury/reserve list, following surgery over the weekend after Pace cut his arm in a household accident in Atlanta.
The decision to put him on the non-football injury list means the Cards can still withhold his salary for the rest of the year if they so choose, like they did to Thomas Jones in 2002 after Jones said he broke his hand at home reaching for a telephone.
It also means Pace can return to the active roster if he is healthy enough to play. Pace’s agent did not return a phone message Wednesday.
To replace Pace, the Cards signed defensive end Antonio Cochran to a one-year contract. Cochran, who had 6 1 /2 sacks for Seattle last season, was cut by the Seahawks at the end of training camp.
The Cardinals came to a financial settlement with linebacker Eric Johnson, who had been placed on injured reserve with a hamstring pull. That means Johnson is free to sign with any team and can play again this season — including with the Cardinals, if he re-signs with them at some point. . . .
Arizona coach Dennis Green said Wednesday that the red-hot Robert Tate (two interceptions in two games) would start alongside David Macklin at cornerback Sunday. . . .
Offensive tackle Adam Haayer (back) and cornerback Eric Green (shoulder) were the only players to miss practice Wednesday. . . .
The Cardinals have distributed 37,245 tickets for Sunday’s game.