Arizona Cardinals free safety Rashad Johnson is still recovering from losing the tip of his left middle finger during a Week 3 game against New Orleans.
According to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, the damage could have gotten even worse until Johnson was pulled out of practice last week after banging his hand.
"There was a slight infection after the first hit, when they had the cast on," Arians told co-host Bill Polian and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday night.
"There's no telling what germs you're trapping in there when you ball it up and put the cast on. The stitches are still there. He could evidently lose more of the digit if he bangs it too much, and with any infection they could have to take more off. We're going to be careful with it."
Arians described the cast that Johnson practiced with last Thursday as a "mitt." Johnson is being fit with a new cast, but his playing status for Sunday's home game against Carolina remains in question.
Arians said the strong play of three other Arizona safeties (Javier Arenas, Tony Jefferson and Tyrann Mathieu) in a 13-10 win over Tampa Bay last Sunday makes it even easier to give Johnson more time to properly heal.
"Once he felt any pain, I said, 'No way,' '' Arians said. "He is a great leader for us. I was really hoping we could get special teams out of him because he's a dynamic special-teams player.
"We're going to try a different cast this week, but as well as those three young safeties played, we're not going to take any risks with that finger."
Johnson, a five-year NFL veteran, had 13 tackles while starting Arizona's first three games before being sidelined with his finger injury.