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Practice Report: What's Changed for the Cardinals since Week 7?

Check out photos from practice as the Rams prepare to face the Cardinals in Week 13.

The Rams were back to work on Wednesday for their first session of the week at Cal Lutheran.
Los Angeles will face off against the Cardinals for the second time this season on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Here are the top three observations from Wednesday:

Who's Practicing, Who's Not

Returning to the field were running backs Malcolm Brown (knee) and Lance Dunbar (knee), as well as cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman (thigh) who participated in a limited capacity.

Outside linebacker Connor Barwin (arm) was also a non-participant. Barwin had surgery for a broken forearm on Monday morning and will be absent from the practice field for the next couple of weeks.

Tight end Tyler Higbee (illness), wide receiver Josh Reynolds (ankle), cornerback Kayvon Webster (ankle), and wide receiver Robert Woods (shoulder) rounded out the Rams injury report as non-participants in Wednesday's practice.

Andrew Whitworth, linebacker Mark Barron, and center John Sullivan were given their weekly rest day and did not participate in the session.

What's changed since Week 7?

On Sunday afternoon, the Rams will face an NFC West division rival in Arizona for the second time this year. Last time around, Los Angeles handedly defeated the Cardinals, shutting them out 33-0. But this time around the matchup should look a little different.

Arizona's starting quarterback Carson Palmer is out with a season-ending arm injury — one he sustained in the Week 7 matchup with the Rams. Drew Stanton, Palmer's primary backup is also out after sustaining a knee injury in Arizona's Week 9 matchup with the Seahawks. With both sidelined, quarterback Blaine Gabbert has stepped in as the primary signal-caller.

Last week, Gabbert led the Cardinals to a win over the Jaguars, throwing for 241 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

"He's definitely more athletic than the other two," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "He's able to get out of the pocket and extend plays a lot more."

And though Ogletree said the offense still runs similarly with Gabbert at the helm, he and cornerback Nickell-Robey Coleman both acknowledged that the defense will have to adjust to "the different nuances" that come along with a new quarterback.

"Blaine is a really good quarterback. He does a lot of good things in the pocket, can step up and throw," Robey-Coleman said. "He's a good quarterback and we can't sleep on him."

On defense, head coach Bruce Arians has named a new starting strong safety — rookie Budda Baker. Baker took over the full-time role in Week 10 after Tyvon Branch went down with a season-ending injury.

The Washington product made a splash in his first start, recording 13 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a pass breakups — catching the attention of several Rams players and coaches.

"He's actually pretty good [and] he's doing a lot of special things," wide receiver Sammy Watkins said. "That's a guy that coach kind of highlighted during the meetings. So we just have to play fast and know he's there — him and Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu — a lot of guys they have that are special on defense."

In all, Sunday's matchup between the Cardinals and Rams should be more competitive than the last. As outside linebacker Samson Ebukam put it, "even though we have faced the Cardinals, I know that they are going to come back with something different because what they did the first time obviously didn't work."

"They are going to come up with a different game plan," he continued, "so we have to be ready for anything.

My Cause, My Cleats

At the end of every practice report this week, will highlight one Rams player participating in the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats campaign. The initiative is the culmination of collaborative work between the NFL and players across the league — allowing them to showcase personal causes on field in Week 13.

One of the 28 Rams participating in Sunday's campaign is Robey-Coleman.

The USC product has chosen to support the American Heart Association as a tribute to his late mother, Maxine, who lost her life to heart failure while he was still in high school.

"She had a heart attack back in 2010, right after I signed at USC," he said. "So I just try to live by her memory and keep it going. I know she's looking down on me and all that good stuff, but that's why I did it, just in remembrance of her."

Robey-Coleman says that by wearing the personalized cleats he will be "doing what I do every game — playing for her." But he did express his excitement at getting to showcase his cause in a tangible way.

"This time it's on my cleats," he said. "When I'm playing, I'm [always] playing for my family, I'm playing for my mom, so, that's just in my mind. But to have it on my cleats and not get fined? That's awesome."

Check out photos of cleats Rams' players will be wearing for the My Cause, My Cleats initiative.

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