TEMPE, Ariz. – Regardless of how healthy Drew Stanton is by kickoff Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, he won’t play against the 49ers, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Monday.
The hope is to have Stanton ready for Arizona’s first playoff game, whether that’s during the wild card or divisional round.
“I have very, very high optimism because he wants to be ready,” Arians said. “I think had he not had that minor setback last week, he would have probably tried to play in that one.
“There’s no way I’ll play him this week unless we have to.”
After Thursday’s practice, in which Stanton was listed as a limited participant, Stanton’s right knee swelled but it went down quickly, Arians said.
“We don’t want to have another setback,” Arians said. “He’ll work into practice some this week and get some action in practice.”
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is playing at a 70-percent level as he continues to recover from a sprained left MCL, Arians said. “He’s nowhere near what he was playing at before,” Arians said. Fitzgerald has averaged 6.5 yards per catch since his he returned in Week 14 after missing two games. Prior to his injury, Fitzgerald averaged 14.3 yards per catch.
Jonathan Cooper received a new cast and Arians said he’ll determine Wednesday if the second-year left guard can play in San Francisco. Arians said Cooper’s initial cast was built “non-functional.” Arians wouldn’t commit to Cooper regaining his starting role at left guard if he returns this season. “We’ll have to see that in practice because he did not do very well in practice last week,” Arians said. “And then we had to take him out. If he can, again, we won’t be in pads, so it’s very hard to find out, but we’ll see.”
Stanton will be the only player held out of Sunday’s game, Arians said. “We’re playing to win the game,” Arians said. “If Drew were truly healthy, we would start him but I don’t see that happening by Sunday.”
The Cardinals came out of Sunday night’s game healthy, Arians said.
Arians said University of Phoenix Stadium had the feeling of a “different game than it had been all year. We didn’t rise up to that. It’s a shame because they don’t come around very often.”
Arians praised the NFL’s scheduling department for putting together matchups this late in the season that ended up mattering. "I think the league does a great job in scheduling when you come down to the last week of the season and there’s so much at stake still,” Arians said. “Throughout the entire league, divisions are still up in the air, wild cards are still in the air. It’s going to be a fun week.”