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Cardinals place top pick OG Cooper on season-ending IR

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The Canadian Press
8/30/2013 4:09:05 PM
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals have placed first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper on injured reserve, ending the left guard's season after initially expressing hope he could be back for as many as the final six games.

Cooper underwent surgery last Sunday after breaking his left leg the previous night in a preseason game against San Diego. Cooper, the seventh pick overall, had been slated to start on a rebuilt offensive line under new coach Bruce Arians.

The team released 13 players on Friday, including nose tackle David Carter and wide receiver Mike Thomas.

Others released are safety Jonathan Amaya, centre Adam Bice, wide receiver Dan Buckner, tight end Alex Gottlieb, wide receiver Charles Hawkins, guard Senio Kelemente, linebacker Zack Nash, linebacker Colin Parker, tight end Richard Quinn, guard Chilo Rachal and safety Curtis Taylor.

The movers leave 61 players on the Arizona roster. It must be reduced to 53 by 6 p.m., EDT, on Saturday.

One reduction will come when inside linebacker Daryl Washington serves his suspension for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. Another could be created if tight end Jeff King, who underwent surgery on his ailing right knee, goes on injured reserve.

Cooper is expected to be sidelined for at least 12 weeks, Arians said. The Cardinals could have used the rule that allows an injured player to return eight weeks into the season, but the coach said it was decided to save that option in case it could be used on someone else.

"We don't feel it's fair to our football team in case we get somebody who can come back sooner, if there is another injury," Arians said. "We felt we needed to keep that spot open. As much as we wanted to get Jon back, the chances of him coming back and then getting in football shape weren't as realistic as we'd hoped for."

A question yet to be answered is whether the Cardinals will release Ryan Lindley and go with two quarterbacks. Arians said he was "90 per cent sure" what he would do with Lindley but wouldn't offer any hints what that might be.

Carter, a sixth-round draft pick out of UCLA in 2011, appeared in all 16 games for the Cardinals the past two seasons, four last year as a starter. But he lost out in the competition, Arians said.

"David was in a battle with Ronald Talley and Talley's strength at the point of attack, the ability to play nose stronger, was better," Arians said. "David has a lot of hustle and a lot of effort but was struggling to hold the point."

Arians repeated his commitment, made after Arizona's 32-24 win at Denver Thursday night, to keep all five running backs on the 53-man roster. That means Ryan Williams, the 2011 second-round draft pick who missed much of training camp with a sore knee, will make the team. The other backs are starter Rashard Mendenhall, Alfonso Smith and rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington.

"I like our running backs. It's one of the strengths of our whole football team, that position," Arians said, "so we're not going to weaken it at all."

Pending further roster moves, there are five wide receivers on the team -- Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, ex-Arizona State player Kerry Taylor and undrafted rookie Jerome Brown.

Thomas, a former University of Arizona standout, was brought in last week after being released by Detroit.

"It was a decision that right now I like the guys we have a little bit more," Arians said. "The punt returning was an added feature but it wasn't a need."

Kelemente was a fifth-round draft pick out of Washington in 2012. Amaya has played in 38 games over three seasons for Miami and New Orleans. Nash appeared in eight games for the Cardinals last year. Rachal has played in 64 games over five seasons, 46 as a starter. He started eight games for Chicago last year. Quinn had signed with the team earlier in the week. Parker signed as a free agent last year. Bice, Buckner, Gottlieb, Hawkins and Curtis Taylor were undrafted rookie free agents.

Arians said he told the players remaining on the roster to take nothing for granted as the team looks at those released by other teams.

"The entire group, I told them don't go buy a car yet," he said. "These next cuts are the tougher ones."

Jonathan Cooper (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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