Rashad Johnson expects to play

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Arizona Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson, who lost the top of his left middle finger in last Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints, says he expects to play this Sunday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"Yes, in my gut, I think I'll play," he told ESPN on Thursday. "But it will really come down to getting cleared by the doctors. They're going to want to make sure everything is OK."

Sometime during a punt-coverage play in the first half this past Sunday -- Johnson isn't quite sure how -- the nail and the skin became separated from the rest of the finger. It was later found in his bloody glove. Despite some reports, he did not return to the game, and later at a New Orleans hospital, doctors shaved down the bone and stitched together the skin over it.

Johnson said he practiced without pads Thursday and got his "heartbeat up to see how the finger responded."

He said he hoped to practice Friday with pads to see whether "the finger can do all the things you need to do in a football game."

The story of Johnson's injury has gone viral. He tweeted three grim images after the fact and, since then, has appeared on three national television shows.