Can Injuries Derail the Cards Again?

While the entire universe was focused on whether or not Matt Leinart would sign, the busiest people in the Cardinals organization were the trainers. Will '07 be another episode of 'ER' only at the Glendale hospital instead of the Tempe branch?

It apparently was only a scare, but it is the kind the Cardinals don't need. Starting defensive right end Bertrand Berry, who missed the final eight games last season because of a torn pectoral muscle, left Saturday's preseason game at New England early because of a left knee injury and did not return. The move, it turns out, was largely just precaution and Berry's injury is not believed to be serious, although he will have an MRI to make certain. Some context is needed here. This is a team that was about 90 percent scar tissue by the end of last season with a league-high 14 players on Injured Reserve and another one out because of a non-football injury. And, despite the Cardinals' hopes that it was all behind them, this preseason isn't starting out much better. Already, starting right tackle Oliver Ross has had surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee. He is hopeful of being ready for the opener but a more realistic outlook is probably closer to Week 3. Starting strong-side linebacker Karlos Dansby has yet to practice because of an assortment of injuries, and, on the heels of what appeared to be a breakout season with three interceptions and four sacks, Dansby has drawn the ire of coach Dennis Green. The good news regarding Dansby is that after evaluation by a physician in Birmingham, Alabama, no surgery is recommended on a toe that Dansby says prevents him from pushing off properly. Prior to that, he had surgery in June to repair a torn thumb ligament and then early in camp suffered a groin strain. Defensive tackle Kenny King, who was expected to be the first backup at right defensive tackle and right end, for the third straight year will miss the opener. He had surgery to remove a plate in his wrist, which he believes caused it to fracture early in camp. The plate was implanted after King missed each of the past two years following surgery on the wrist. King will be out another six to eight weeks, but given his history -- he hasn't played a down since 2003 -- it is debatable whether the team will hold a roster spot for him. Probably nobody is happier that Berry's injury is not believed serious than tackle Darnell Dockett, who lines up beside Berry. Two seasons ago, Berry had 14.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl. Last season, he had six in eight games before being injured. "My job got harder without him," Dockett said. "I was getting double-teamed all the time. But most important, we missed our leader." King's injury throws the rotation and depth on the defensive line into a spin. Dansby's thwarts development of a linebacking corps in which no position is yet set -- although his would be if he were healthy and practicing. First-team strong-side linebacker Calvin Pace and backup weak-side linebacker Darryl Blackstock are playing new positions. James Darling and Gerald Hayes are battling in the middle. There has been speculation that Dansby could be moved to the weak side when he returns because the coaches are so happy with Pace's work in Dansby's absence. "Pretty soon we're going to be playing real games with real records," Green said. "Not a good deal to not play in preseason games and play regular-season games. Not very smart at all." Ross' injury sets back redevelopment of the offensive line that is attempting to rebound after the Cardinals had the worst rushing attack in the NFL last season.

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