Best-case scenario: backup role

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals upgraded Emmitt Smith
to questionable for Sunday's game against St. Louis after the NFL's
career rushing leader went through a second day of practice

"I'm getting back healthy and feeling pretty good about where
I'm at," Smith said, "and I look forward to getting back on the
football field."

Smith has been out since breaking his left shoulder blade
against the Cowboys on Oct. 5. Thursday's practice was his first in
full pads since the injury.

"I had the shoulder pads on, got banged around a little bit,"
he said. "I feel like my condition is not too bad. Of course I
need to get a lot more game kind of reps to really assess where I'm
at, but I feel pretty good."

Coach Dave McGinnis said after the practice that he decided to
upgrade Smith from doubtful.

"That means 50-50, that's pretty good odds, isn't it?" McGinnis
said. "He's come along. He's right on schedule for where he needs
to be."

Smith said he's ready to come back, at least for now, as the
backup to Marcel Shipp, who is banged up and hasn't practiced all
week after getting a total of 95 carries the last four weeks.

"It takes its toll. Nobody understands that better than me,"
Smith said. "When you've got 4,000 carries you know what it's
like, so I empathize with him big-time. I was brought here to be a
starter but if I don't have to be a starter and back him up right
now just to get myself back into the flow of it, I'm all for it."

Shipp, who had consecutive 100-yard rushing games in victories
over San Francisco and Cincinnati while Smith was out, had fluid
drained from his right arm earlier this week. He said the arm felt
much better Thursday and there was no doubt he would play on

Still, Shipp probably couldn't withstand a 35-carry game like he
had against San Francisco.

"We need everybody we can get," quarterback Jeff Blake said of
Smith's possible return. "We need as much help as we can. The more
veteran experience that we have out there, the better for our team
as an offense. We're just glad to have him back when he's ready to
come back."

Shipp said he appreciated Smith's willingness to come back as a

"It says a lot. I'm honored that he feels that way," Shipp
said. "Whatever it takes to get a win for this ball club, I'm sure
we both would be happy with it."

Smith said he's tried to stay involved, working out at the
practice facility, accompanying the team on road trips, working the
sidelines during games and talking with Shipp. He was there last
Sunday when the Cardinals were awful in a 44-6 loss at Cleveland.

"I was surprised. I really was surprised," he said. "I
thought we were prepared. I thought we were ready to play."

He has heard and read the speculation that McGinnis' job is in
jeopardy, and he repeated his support of the coach.

"I love coach Mac. He's a good coach," Smith said.
"Unfortunately, our play has not been up to par to the quality of
coach that he is."