BY: ED COLE
TEMPE, Ariz. – Make no mistake about it: Jerraud Powers isn’t missing Sunday Night Football in Philadelphia.
“I’ll be out there for sure. Yeah, I’ll be out there for sure,” Powers said.
Powers has been nursing a bum calf ever since he injured it in the 49ers game three weeks ago. He was limited during the team’s Wednesday practice, but the time and work he did get with his teammates did him some good.
“I feel good, I feel good,” Powers said. “It was good to go out there and practice today with the guys. It seems I’ve been out for two months, but it felt good. No setbacks or anything, so I’m looking forward to Sunday night (with the Eagles).”
If you’re Powers, why would you want to be hurt at this juncture of the season, with the team pushing so hard for the NFC West title, and one of the top seeds in the NFC playoffs? Powers says it wasn’t a good time to be injured and out for the last two games (Rams, Vikings), but at the same time, it allowed him to get a second wind, and come back stronger and much more refreshed for the final run to the playoffs and beyond.
“Yeah, it actually did, with the long season,” Powers said. “When you do hurt, it kind of gives you time to catch your breath a little bit, re-gather your thoughts, get your body right the way it needs to be, especially on the run and stretch that we’re heading into. These last three games (Eagles, Packers, Seahawks) (are) very important, this one in particular, (because) we can clinch our division which is big.”
“It definitely (gives) you a fresh breath of air,” Powers said. “I want to say it was like a two-week bye because they had me in there doing some of everything. It was almost like a few days just to get your mind right and get ready to go.”
Powers couldn’t have returned at a better time for the Cardinals, and cornerback/safety Tyrann Mathieu in particular. Mathieu leans on Powers for a lot each and every day, each and every game, so for him to have his big brother back in the mix, it’s given him a fresh breath of air too.
“It’s important to have any of our core guys. We want those guys on the field,” Mathieu said. “He (Powers) helps us our a lot. I know, me personally, he helps me out a bunch, so just having him on the field with me takes a lot of stress off me.”
Arizona’s been blessed to have so much depth and talent in all areas of their team. They lost Powers yes, but they plugged cornerback/special teams ace Justin Bethel in there and it’s like the defense never lost a step.
Powers says it’s great that the defensive coordinator James Bettcher can just plug and play with Bethel at the right cornerback spot and keep it moving until he’s ready to jump back in it.
“Personally, it’s always tough just because you want to be out there, but the guys we got in our room, and the talent we have, it hasn’t been necessarily a rush I would say to jump back, because we got guys that can play, and guys have been playing well in the secondary, and we’re so tight,” Powers said. “It’s not like a guy that’s stepping into my position (Bethel) hasn’t been here, or hasn’t played a lot of football here. It wasn’t like they were rushing me to get back or anything like that. I just feel good, and happy to be back on a Sunday night, and lucky enough that it’s a primetime game, so I’m just ready to be back for it.”
Powers will and determination will be put to the test at Lincoln Financial Field, as Eagles head coach Chip Kelly will throw everything and the kitchen sink at Arizona’s defense, so Powers and his guys will have to have their heads on a swivel and be alert for anything that may come at them.
“I think the main thing is you can’t panic,” Powers said. “They’re up-tempo, they do a lot of different things, so I think as a defense, as a whole, from the coaching staff to the players, when they’re going fast, I think everybody has to stay calm. It’s not like every play they’re snapping it within five seconds. It’s a lot of times where the play clock runs down just as if they’re in a huddle. Communication’s going to be very big this week, especially being on the road. Everybody’s going to have to know the calls, since we’re not going to be able to huddle as a defense. As long as the communication is good, and everybody just keeps their poise, I think we’ll be fine.”