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Injured lineman watches practice

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, still months away from being able to return to the playing field after his second major knee operation in three years, has rejoined the team.

Vanden Bosch watched from the sidelines Wednesday as his
teammates practiced for this weekend's game against Baltimore. He
said he was done with the first part of his rehabilitation and
ready to begin working out in a more structured team environment.

"One of my roles before was to kind of pick everybody up in
practice, and hopefully the more I'm around, the more I can do
that," said Vanden Bosch, who tore ligaments in his left knee Aug.
16 in an exhibition game at San Diego.

Coach Dave McGinnis said Vanden Bosch was expected to attend
team meetings and keep his head in the program during his recovery
from reconstructive surgery performed in August.

"Kyle is an integral part of this football team," McGinnis
said. "I mean, he's never not been a part of this team. Any
players that are injured -- even if they're on injured reserve --
they're still part of this team."

Safety Adrian Wilson got a boost just seeing the rugged lineman
back at his locker.

"Kyle has been through a lot the last couple of years," said
Wilson, who was drafted in the third round in 2001, one round
behind Vanden Bosch. "It's inspirational to see him in the meeting
rooms and know that he's still with us. That's the main thing I
know. Guys get hurt every day in this league, but to have the guy
still around, it helps us out."

When healthy, the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Vanden Bosch was a poster
figure for a tougher Arizona defense. Teammates remember his
fearlessness going after offensive guard Leonard Davis in training
camp. Davis, who weighs 380, broke his hand punching Vanden Bosch
before they were separated.

But the Cardinals have had little more than an occasional,
tantalizing glimpse of what Vanden Bosch can do. He tore up his
right knee in the third game of his rookie season.

After spending all winter in rehab, Vanden Bosch returned to
play right end last year. Without a strong complementary rush from
the left side, he played right end and led the Arizona pass rush
with four sacks. He also had 66 tackles, the team's high for a
lineman.

The Cardinals (1-4), who ranked last in the NFL in sacks in 2001
(19) and 2002 (21), moved Vanden Bosch to left end this year after
drafting Calvin Pace in the first round, and the pass rush thrived
in the preseason. But after Vanden Bosch went down, the same anemic
rush showed up for the regular season. The team has three sacks,
all by blitzing linebackers or safeties.

"We've seen parts of games where our defense has been a good
defense and, you know, at times a dominant defense," Vanden Bosch
said. "But we just need to put a whole game together."