PRESCOTT - Earlier in the day Wednesday, Cardinals coach Dennis Green all but locked rookie Darnell Dockett — drafted specifically because he could play the “under” tackle in Green’s scheme — into being the starting left defensive end this season.
“I think end is going to be his position for what we are going to do this year,” Green said, “and it might be his position forever.”
The choice became more clear later Wednesday, when further tests showed that backup left defensive end Fred Wakefield has a stress fracture in his right foot. While the team was not putting any official timetable on his return, Wakefield believes he will be out six to eight weeks.
Wakefield is the fourth Cardinal to suffer a long-term injury in training camp, after running back Marcel Shipp (out for the season, broken leg), receiver Anquan Boldin (out until mid-October, knee), defensive tackle Kenny King (out for the season, wrist) and fullback James Hodgins (out until mid-September, shoulder). Receiver Bryant Johnson has also missed all of camp with a foot fracture.
The Wakefield injury isn’t critical simply because of the sheer number of ends on the roster. Besides starters Dockett and Bertrand Berry, the Cards still have Kyle Vanden Bosch, Calvin Pace, Antonio Smith and Dennis Johnson. Johnson, who rarely gets reps in practice, will likely be cut.
Meanwhile, Ross Kolodziej, who has little NFL experience, is going to be the team’s starting under tackle. He hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2001.
“The NFL is hard on fourth- and fifth-year players,” Green said. “Bert Berry was out of the league for a year. We are always looking for guys who want to play.”
The Cards picked up tackle Cedric Hilliard on waivers Tuesday and likely will find someone else after other teams make cuts. It is notable that tackle Wendell Bryant is looking more impressive in practices.
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Green continued to flood the roster will possible players by claiming three more players from waivers Wednesday: defensive tackle Joe Tafoya (cut by Chicago), linebacker Justin Smith (St. Louis) and receiver Derek McCoy (St. Louis). The Cardinals have now claimed 10 players off waivers during training camp.
Hilliard and receiver Lawrence Hamilton, claimed Tuesday, were at practice Wednesday. Receiver Scotty Anderson, also claimed Tuesday, is expected at practice this morning.
The Cardinals have a final hard practice this morning at 9:30 a.m. and then a special teams workout at 4 p.m. The team concludes its time in Prescott with a 10:30 a.m. practice Friday before breaking camp for the season. . . .
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald (sprained ankle) tried to do some light jogging and cutting catching the ball, but still looked very gimpy. Green said he didn’t expect Fitzgerald to play again in the preseason.