The Associated Press
TEMPE Ÿ Eric Swann surprised everyone but his Arizona Cardinals teammates Wednesday by practicing 29 days after knee surgery.
Swann denied that he would play Sunday against the Washington Redskins, and coach Buddy Ryan said he would have to study practice film to decide whether to activate the 6-foot-5, 295-pound defensive tackle.
But all the signs point to Swann's return this weekend, two weeks sooner than expected.
For instance, as soon as Swann showed up at his spot on the left side, fill-in Michael Bankston moved back out to left defensive end, and the first-string defense finished practice that way. Swann went full speed and felt no pain.
Most telling of all, middle linebacker Eric Hill said he felt much better about playing the Redskins.
''We need him, and he's probably to the point where he's healthy enough to get our there and do some things,'' Hill said.
Arizona, hard-hit by injuries, is 1-5 and has worse defensive statistics than any teams but Cincinnati, New Orleans and Seattle.
''His presence out there is definitely going to help us more than what we've doing,'' Hill said. ''Today he looked well. He looked like the Eric of old. He might have got a little winded for a little while, but we'll get him ready by Sunday.''
Ryan said he had heard from other players that Swann, who began running Oct. 2, was ready to practice.
''We want to see how he did on the one-on-one pass rush, but he looks like he's moving around good to me,'' Ryan said.
Swann said he'd play when Ryan told him to line up.
''I'm eager to get back, but I'm not a messiah,'' Swann said. ''I'm not the guy that's going to cause the team to win. I'm just going to do my job, and hopefully we can all form together, get on one page, and accomplish what we have to accomplish.''
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