Rookie RB Wells still on the mend as Cardinals wrap up camp

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- First-round draft pick Beanie Wells' ankle and wide receiver Steve Breaston's knee were the only real sore spots as the Cardinals wrapped up their three-week training camp in the pine trees and thin Northern Arizona air.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt put the team through a brisk 90-minute workout Thursday morning before the NFC champions moved out of their Northern Arizona University dorm rooms and headed down Interstate 17 to the triple-digit heat of metropolitan Phoenix.

"It's been a productive camp," Whisenhunt said. "I know ultimately it will be judged by how our season goes, but I feel like we got a lot of things done. It seemed we were further ahead this year."

Wells' gimpy right ankle was better Thursday, but Whisenhunt was uncertain whether the former Ohio State running back would be able to play in Saturday night's preseason home game against the San Diego Chargers.

"We'll see how it feels Saturday," Whisenhunt said. "I knew yesterday it was a little bit sore from Tuesday night, and he fought through that, and today it was a little bit better. Hopefully it will progress enough Saturday that we can get him in there a few snaps."

Wells sprained the ankle when he was rolled on during a drill in his first practice. He didn't play in the Cardinals' 20-10 preseason-opening road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 13.

Breaston sprained his right knee in the Steelers game and hasn't practiced since. He is expected to miss the Chargers game. Jerehme Urban, whose performance in camp was highly praised by Whisenhunt and quarterback Kurt Warner, will take Breaston's spot as the No. 3 receiver.

Other than Wells and Breaston, the Cardinals had little to complain about after a camp that drew big crowds following the team's unexpected run to the Super Bowl.

"The fans have been unbelievable," Whisenhunt said. "Just the support we've had out here, it gives you that little extra kick. Maybe that's why our practices have been so good, because there have been so many people out here watching, cheering and clapping."

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said he could feel the team's confidence carry over from last season.

"This camp was really crisp," he said. "Coach Whisenhunt runs a great camp, but I think we were focused and ready to go when we got here."

Unlike some coaches in the league, Whisenhunt doesn't work his players overly hard in camp. There were only four two-a-day practices and almost no hard hitting.

"Coach really took care of us," linebacker Karlos Dansby said, "and we appreciate that. We've got to go out and play hard to thank him."

Whisenhunt's approach is patterned after that of Pittsburgh, where he was offensive coordinator before taking over in Arizona in 2007. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin said the coach gets everything from his players during practice.

"When we get on the field, we work," Boldin said. "Some teams have 20 straight two-a-days in a row in full pads. I'm pretty sure their injury list is pretty long. You've got to work hard, but you've got to work smart."

The camp would have been a week longer, but the Cardinals had to move out because classes are about to begin at Northern Arizona.

Whisenhunt said he expects Warner and the rest of the starters to play about a quarter against San Diego, with Brian St. Pierre taking over, then Matt Leinart. Leinart was the second quarterback against the Steelers, but Whisenhunt has promised St. Pierre a fair shot at the No. 2 job behind Warner.

Although the Cardinals are leaving Flagstaff, there are many more workouts at the practice facility in Tempe and three preseason games before the season opener at home against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 13.

"We've still got a long way to go," Warner said. "We say camp's over because we break from here, but we've still got a lot of work to do and a lot of camp to face yet down in the heat."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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