TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson is the latest casualty for the beat-up Arizona Cardinals' defense.
Wilson will have season-ending surgery on his ailing right heel, the team said Wednesday.
He is the third Arizona defensive starter ruled out for the season in the last three weeks.
Cornerback Eric Green went out with a groin tear in the first half of Sunday's overtime loss to San Francisco. Defensive end Bertrand Berry went down with a torn right triceps against Detroit on Nov. 11.
Wilson's string of 59 consecutive starts ended two weeks ago at Cincinnati. He also sat out Sunday's game against San Francisco. That has given the Cardinals time to adjust to life without him, coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
``It's hard to replace a player of Adrian's caliber, but we have some guys we expect to step up and fill that role,'' Whisenhunt said. ``Adrian's been a workhorse. He's frustrated. We all are, but there's nothing we can do about that. We expect the next guy to step up.''
Oliver Celestin has started in Wilson's place. Antrel Rolle, a former first-round draft pick who lost his starting job in training camp, will move into Green's cornerback spot.
Two weeks ago, playing a roving fifth defensive back, Rolle intercepted three passes, returning two of them for touchdowns. He took the third pick back for a score, too, but it was called back by a dubious penalty.
Rolle will have to fight through grief when he starts Sunday against Cleveland. He was a friend since childhood with Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who died of a gunshot wound on Tuesday in Miami.
``We're counting on Antrel,'' Whisenhunt said. ``Certainly it's tough, and he has to fight through it, but he's got to be ready on Sunday.''
Arizona's top backup safety, Aaron Francisco, remains sidelined with a calf injury. That leaves Matt Ware and Ralph Brown to mix in with some of the team's five-defensive back packages.
On offense, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was limited in practice with a sore groin but said he would be fine. Quarterback Kurt Warner took part in the entire practice despite sore ribs to go with the torn ligament in his left (non-throwing) elbow.
Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said that injuries are just a poor excuse for a team that loses. He said every team loses players to injury, and it's up to those behind them to step up, even if they aren't as talented as those they replace.
No one is more talented than Wilson, Dockett said.
``Best safety in the league, if you ask me. But the season must go on,'' he said. ``Are we going to throw in the towel because we don't have Adrian Wilson? No. That means Darnell Dockett, that means Antonio Smith, that means Calvin Pace, Karlos Dansby have to step up their play to help the guy who's backing Adrian up.''
Advertisement
Advertisement

Top NFL Public Bets

Advertisement

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Cowboys vs. Giants Pick Is the total in this Sunday Night Football's matchup between the Cowboys and Giants set too high for the 8:30PM ET kickoff?
Thumbnail Falcons vs. Rams Pick Will the under cash on Sunday when the Rams host the banged-up Falcons at 4:25PM ET?
Thumbnail Saints vs. Bucs Pick Will the Saints and Bucs rack up enough points to push the combined score over the betting today on Sunday at 4:25PM ET?
Thumbnail Seahawks vs. Packers Pick Will the Seattle Seahawksbe able to hold the surging Green Bay Packers’offense in check when the two NFC powers meet up this Sunday at 4:25PM ET?
Thumbnail Redskins vs. Eagles Pick Can the Washington Redskinsfind themselves in another high-scoring battle when they face the Philadelphia Eagles...
Advertisement

NFL Team Pages