SARASOTA, Fla. -- No fingertip? No problem.
A day after he lost the tip of his left middle finger in a 31-7 road loss to the New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson said he may play Sunday at Tampa Bay.
"I'm just going to take it day to day, see how everything heals up and how it feels," Johnson said. "I'm going to approach [this week] just like any other game week. I'm gonna go in, watch my film, make sure I know everything that's in the game plan, and when the time comes around and the decision needs to be made, it'll be in Coach [Bruce] Arians' hands.
"I'll trust his decision. If he thinks I'm ready to go, I'll definitely be prepared mentally and physically to go and play."
The primary determining factors will be whether the finger can avoid infection because the bone was exposed briefly and whether Johnson can tolerate the pain.
Johnson can pinpoint the play when the gruesome injury happened but has no idea how it occurred. However, playing amateur detective, Johnson believes the finger didn't get caught in a face mask or stepped on by a cleat because his glove wasn't ripped or torn. He thinks the finger was driven into the turf at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and snapped off.
Johnson broke away from a blocker to help bring down Saints running back Darren Sproles on a punt return with 5:24 left in the first half. After the play, Johnson remembers his hand being numb. On the game film, Johnson saw himself kneeling, looking at his hand, and he remembers blood coming out the glove.
Cardinals trainers cut off the left glove to find his middle finger severed just above the knuckle with exposed bone. The rest of Johnson's finger, including the nail, was still in the glove.
He underwent surgery Sunday night. Doctors shaved down the bone in the finger to prevent infection and stitched up the wound. There were no plans to reattach the finger, and Johnson's injury may take a few weeks to heal.
The Cardinals tweeted out a photo of Johnson's wrapped up hand.
During #AZvsNO, #AZCardinals S @49foyamind49 lost the tip of his left middle finger. Here it is bandaged post-op. pic.twitter.com/0SPpZRpSJ0
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) September 23, 2013
However, it was Arians who left the door open for Johnson to play Sunday against Tampa Bay.
"It's day to day," Arians said Monday. "It's just a matter of pain tolerance."
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who didn't see the play but said his teammates thought Johnson broke his wrist by the way he was holding his hand, called his teammate a "trouper" for trying to play Sunday.
"That's nuts," Peterson said. "Especially the way the trainers were explaining the incident when he came out to the sidelines and his gloves were drenched in blood and it was leaking like a faucet.
"I can't imagine that. I can't even imagine feeling and seeing that as if I was Rashad."
The true impact of what happened Sunday didn't hit Johnson until he had the bandage replaced at the team hotel in Sarasota, Fla., where the Cardinals are staying while they prepare to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
That's when it hit him.
"I was joking around in the hospital because they had me [on] some pretty good stuff to get through the pain, so I was joking around with the guy and taking pictures and laughing with him," Johnson said. "It didn't really set in until this morning when I got here and we took the gauze off and got it cleaned up here and I actually got to see it was the same length as my index finger. It was pretty shocking to see it that way. But you know, this type of stuff happens."
The pain was unlike anything he'd experienced physically as a football player, Johnson said.
"I've been lucky to not have any major injuries, but to have someone have to chip away at your bone and dig into it to get it to the point where they can cover it back up was pretty painful the night after," he said.
The first question Johnson asked Arizona's trainers after they cut off the glove was whether he could return to the game, so football never left his mind.
Not having the tip of his left middle finger doesn't change football for Johnson, he said. All he said he needs to catch a ball are his thumbs and index fingers.
"So your middle finger, I don't know pretty much what it's used for unless it's just the extra grip in making a tackle," Johnson said. "So, I mean, it probably wasn't getting used for anything good anyway."
In other injury news, Cardinals starting outside linebackers Sam Acho and Lorenzo Alexander will miss the rest of the season with injuries sustained in Sunday's loss, Arians said Monday.
Acho has a broken fibula, and Alexander is out with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot. Both will be placed on injured reserve.