For Fitz, Mom still influences choices

Posted by Darren Urban on September 30, 2009 – 5:36 pm

Larry Fitzgerald was always close with his late mother, Carol, and he’s made a couple of decisions of late that were impacted by his relationship. To begin with, Fitzgerald said that, as the only member of his family without a college degree after younger brother Marcus got his recently, he will be going back to get his degree.

He already has an endorsement deal with the University of Phoenix, and given Fitz’s long way to a degree – he said he’s still more than 80 credits short after attending the University of Pittsburgh for his freshman and the first semester of his sophomore year before being drafted – the University of Phoenix’s online classes actually work well into a schedule that includes playing in the NFL and traveling the world. He’s a communications major.

“There is no telling when my career is going to end and I want to make sure I have something to fall back on,” Fitzgerald said dead serious, which is a little funny since he’s already collected at least $50 million in his career. “(A degree) is a good security blanket and something I promised my mother a long time ago that I would do. The longer it gets away (from my college days) it’s going to get harder and harder to finish, so I want to start taking some classes and get some of the credits down.”

His other choice is to be an NFL spokesman for breast cancer awareness. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and after his mother succumbed to the disease, he wanted to use his high profile in continuing the fight to find a cure. He’s one of the NFL players who will be wearing some pink gear in a game (Oct. 11 against Houston) for the movement. Some other players will be taking part, but Fitzgerald was sporting the pink wristbands for a photo shoot Wednesday (along with a ball with the breast cancer awareness logo), and he’ll have pink gloves and pink shoes too. Definitely a color that raises awareness – you can’t miss it.




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Beisel available

Posted by Darren Urban on September 29, 2009 – 9:29 pm

Veteran linebacker Monty Beisel, whom the Cardinals wanted to bring back as a free agent before he was lured to Kansas City by Todd Haley, has been released by the Chiefs (Ironically, one of the players signed by the Chiefs Tuesday during the roster moves was former Cards tight end Leonard Pope). Would the Cards still be interested in Beisel? Perhaps. Right now, the only backup inside linebackers are the inexperienced Reggie Walker (who would probably clear through to the practice squad if needed) and the undersized Ali Highsmith.

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The uncapped year and other stuff

Posted by Darren Urban on September 29, 2009 – 11:01 am

We’ve just gotten started with the season but this blog post by former NFL front office guy J.I. Halsell does a nice job breaking down what the uncapped year would mean to free agency. If there won’t be a new collective bargaining agreement by early next year, the NFL will deal with no salary cap (before there is a potential work stoppage in 2011, but we won’t fret about that — yet).  He even ends up using  free-agent-to-be Neil Rackers as an example. It would really wreak havoc on free agency, which is why it exists in the first place. It’s supposed to be motivation to get a new CBA done.

A couple other things:

— The Cardinals have converted only 10 of 37 third-downs this season, an astounding low mark of 27 percent. Last year, they were at 42 percent, which shows you how much the passing game isn’t clicking.

— Ever wonder what happened to Marcel Shipp after he was released in training camp 2008? He has resurfaced in the UFL (and is on the same team as Arizona local and Arizona State product Adam Archuleta).

— Finally, please welcome in a new member of the Cards’ broadcast and web departments. Pete McElroy will be doing both video and written pieces for after spending the past few years covering the Washington Nationals.

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Colts aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on September 28, 2009 – 9:45 am

Obviously, not a good night. It looked like it would be, after the way the defense handled the Colts in the first quarter – three punts and an interception. After that, well, ugh. Coach Ken Whisenhunt used the word “disappointed” a few times, including when he talked about starting 0-2 at home. “I’m disappointed we haven’t lived up to our end of the bargain for our fans,” he said, and judging by the comments I have seen via e-mails/on the blog/Facebook/Twitter, the fans are none too happy about it.

Other thoughts on Sunday night, here on a Monday morning because it just got too late to write:

— I know many were wondering about the lack of Beanie (two carries for minus-2 yards) in the game. Simple, really. Beanie can run right now, but the other parts of the game, like catching and blocking, are better served with Tim Hightower in the game. The way the game developed meant Beanie sat.

— Speaking of running backs, I don’t think anyone would have guessed the Cards, after the Colts gave up 239 yards rushing the week before to the Dolphins, would only gain 24 yards on the ground.

— Kurt Warner could have thrown the ball away on his end-of-the-half fluky interception, but he saw a chance with Larry Fitzgerald – and it’s exactly the kind of play Fitzgerald has been looking for from his QB. “I felt he was in a favorable position on a smaller corner,” Warner said. “I think we had a window there.”

— That said, the turnover was obviously a killer, since the Cards did manage to march down for a touchdown to open the second half.

— Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said he is still learning, but the learning curve really hurt the Cards. All week the Cardinals talked about how Peyton Manning would rip them apart if they didn’t handle their assignments, and the couple of times DRC didn’t, Manning found the opening. Even on the bomb DRC barely missed, though, Manning threw a perfect pass.

— The plays that summed up the game to me, other than the turnovers. The juxtaposition of the two bombs: Manning’s right-on 53-yard TD toss to Pierre Garcon, and Warner’s overthrow of Fitzgerald when Fitz was wide open after the defensive back fell. You can’t miss those opportunities. Oh, and you can’t forget Warner running for his life backward on his final fourth-down play when he ended up losing 28 yards on a sack. This game will not be on the highlight reel for left tackle Mike Gandy or any of the offensive line, for that matter. “I don’t feel I won my share of battles out there,” Gandy said.

— Given the way this team is constructed, you have to wonder (worry) when the offense makes early mistakes on how it affects the whole team. We all know how badly the Hightower fumble at the Colts’ 5 hurt, but on the drive before – which ended on a Neil Rackers field goal and a 3-0 Cards’ lead – the Cardinals were at the Indianapolis 20 with a third-and-1. Warner tried to go down the field to Fitzgerald. Anquan Boldin was wide open on the left side of the play (he was demonstrably angry right after the incompletion, and was lucky he didn’t get a penalty when he ripped off his helmet on the field) about two yards past the first-down marker. The two drives combined maybe should have turned into two touchdowns. But when they didn’t, maybe it takes something away from the defense.

— Then again, maybe Manning is just the best quarterback in the NFL and that 95-yard drive after the Hightower fumble was simply Manning proving his legend once again more than the Cards’ shortcomings.

We’ll see. From here, the Cards have to go 6-0 at home just to match last season’s home record. But if they beat the Texans in their next game, they will be 2-2 after four games, just like last season. With the bye coming, they might as well as go half-full with the glass. What other options are there?


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A painful first half

Posted by Darren Urban on September 27, 2009 – 7:08 pm

The Cards trail 21-3 at the half and realistically could be within 21-17 had they just converted when they should have. But turning the ball over twice inside the opponents’ 5-yard line is never a recipe for success. It may not matter either, since Peyton Manning looks like he has solved the Cards’ defense.  We’ll see how the second half plays out — the Cards do get the ball first — but there is much work to do.

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Dockett hurts ankle UPDATE: He’s back

Posted by Darren Urban on September 27, 2009 – 5:55 pm

DT Darnell Dockett has come out of the game with a right ankle sprain and his return is questionable. Not what the Cards need early. We’ll see if the defense can make up for him if he can’t return.

UPDATE: Dockett has returned to play.

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Ware, Doucet among inactives

Posted by Darren Urban on September 27, 2009 – 4:03 pm

The Cardinals have announced their inactives for tonight’s game, and there are no surprises. S Matt Ware is still out with the bad shoulder, and given the health of the rest of the receivers, WR Early Doucet won’t play. Also on the list: QB Brian St. Pierre, LB Reggie Walker, T Herman Johnson, G Brandon Keith, TE Dominique Byrd and DE Kenny Iwebema.

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Colts missing key defenders

Posted by Darren Urban on September 26, 2009 – 8:36 pm

Not only is safety Bob Sanders out for the Colts with a bad knee, but the Colts officially downgraded key defenders LB Gary Brackett (knee) and cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) from questionable to out on Saturday. Neither Hayden or Brackett even made the plane trip out. We’ll see what that means — it’s not like the Colts haven’t been preparing all week in case Brackett or Hayden, who didn’t practice at all, wouldn’t play. But it would seem to bode well for a Cards’ offense that already was expecting results.

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Going into the weekend

Posted by Darren Urban on September 25, 2009 – 5:09 pm

It’s a Friday, and I wanted to try to get back to the late afternoon, wrap-up of the week blogs that I had been doing last season. Big weekend for the Cards, especially going into the bye. There is such a huge difference between 2-1 and 1-2, knowing that with the latter it means an 0-2 record at a home field the Cards thought they could turn into a 6-2 or 7-1 massive advantage. With the Texans, Panthers, Vikings and Packers still left on the home schedule, that’d be a rough goal with a loss Sunday.

But I feel good about this one for the Cards, and I’d like to believe it’s not because I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. This is the kind of game in which these Cards tend to thrive, on national TV, at home, against a good team (and one that many are picking to win on the road). I’ll guess we’ll see Sunday night.

— Coach Ken Whisenhunt on getting hyped for “Sunday Night Football”: “It all started many years ago with the Monday Night games when there were no other games and everybody was watching and you knew everyone was watching,” Whisenhunt said. “Now, it’s Sunday night and the emphasis put on it, it’s the same thing. There is so much more coverage with the NFL than there ever has been which is great. But when you are the only game playing and it is on national TV, your juices do get flowing.

“Now, our team gets excited for 1 o’clock games on Sunday. We’re not just going through the motions. But there is a little bit different air. Everyone talks about how the speed and intensity picks up with the playoffs. Well it’s like that when you play a Sunday night game or a Monday night game.”

— The Cardinals catch a break with Colts stud safety Bob Sanders still out. The Colts’ defense is simply better when Sanders plays. I’ve noticed that over the years watching them from afar. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it just changes the complexion, beyond just what Sanders does tangibly. It’s a lot like when Adrian Wilson is missing for the Cards (see: Jets and Favre against the Cards’ D, 2008).

— This will be Kurt Warner’s 34th consecutive start for the Cards. Never thought he’d reach such heights, but with the dings he plays with, it makes his record-setting game last week even more amazing – even if he says he feels he “stole” the record because of how the game played out.

— I am much more worried about what tight end Dallas Clark will do against the Cards than Reggie Wayne. I think the Cardinals can deal with a top receiver. They don’t see good tight ends often.

— This stat has been making the rounds: If you include playoff games, the Cardinals are 17-0 under Whisenhunt when they hold an advantage in the turnover battle. When they are even, they are 3-2. When they have more turnovers than the other guys, they are 1-15. Guess we know what stat to look at to analyze the end. (That one victory when losing the turnover battle? The electrifying overtime win over the Cowboys last season, when the Cards scored twice on special teams – the ultimate equalizer. Thanks for that off-the-top-of-the-head info, Little Whiz).

— Anquan Boldin needs 61 yards receiving to move into fourth place in the franchise’s history. As of today, Boldin is 1,913 yards shy of Roy Green’s top mark of 8,497.

— This is a huge test for this defense. They have had two pretty decent games (although I don’t think they were thrilled with the fourth quarter in either outing). But last year, the D surrendered 13 and 10 points in the first two games, respectively, and that didn’t hold up. They aren’t going to shut out Peyton Manning. But they have to slow him.

That’s it. Time to go spend some time with the family. Going to take in a football game at the high school where my wife teaches, and count on the Cards being ready in that atmosphere Sunday night. I haven’t been on the field pre-game yet this season, but I think we’ll have to give that a go this week. When you go to a Super Bowl, these are the games you’re supposed to be part of the next season.


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Downloading the Underground

Posted by Darren Urban on September 25, 2009 – 3:44 pm

In case you haven’t seen it, the new has now reconnected with iTunes so fans can download not only the Cardinals Underground podcasts, but also In The Red Zone with Ken Whisenhunt and the Big Red Rage. So, compliments of the multi-talented Jim Omohundro, here are the step-by-step instructions:

Step 1:  Open iTunes

Step 2:  Click on “Advanced”

Step 3:  Click “Subscribe to Podcast”

Step 4:  Copy and paste the following link in the box:

Older podcasts are not available, but they are up and running from this week.


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