It’s been a long week, but here we are to the end, with the second half of the season about to begin. It’s been an odd first half too – the Cardinals are 5-3, and yet, there isn’t that joy you’d think would come with such a record or first-place standing.
“Last year we were excited to be 5-3 and this year we are disappointed to be 5-3,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said, “because we have had opportunities to be better than we are.”
That’s true, although the players who were around for the more difficult (*cough*DennyGreen*cough*) years aren’t about to complain. “I was hoping we’d get to this point eventually,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said, with safety Matt Ware adding “I’d rather have it be this way than the other way.”
Me too. No denying that. Can’t imagine being the writer for stlouisrams.com right now (Hang in there, Nick).
Anyway, the Seahawks are coming in, the Cards are trying to right their issues at home (more on that in a story I’ll post tomorrow) and it’s time to take control of the NFC West.
— I expect a lot of passes Sunday. From the Seahawks because they can’t run the ball – I read one story from Seattle that pointed out their yards-per-rush is the team’s worst since 1984, when their top back was an on-his-last-legs Franco Harris after the other Curt Warner blew out his knee. Matt Hasselbeck threw it 51 times last week. Not that you wish ill will, but since Hasselbeck is already hurting with his old ribs injury and now a sore arm, I will not be shocked with a Seneca Wallace sighting at some point.
— The Cards will run for sure, after 182 rushing yards a week ago. But Larry Fitzgerald seems like he has raised his level of late and I think it’s safe to say (a healthy) Anquan Boldin is, uh, motivated to have a big game.
— Will the roof be open? Whisenhunt called it a game-day decision. The temperature works. The Cards, with the noise trapped inside, always had a lot of success with the roof closed. But I guess, given the road success this season (and the home defeats) you could argue trying the other way. We’ll see.
— With Mike Gandy iffy with his pelvic injury and veteran Jeremy Bridges slated to fill in if needed, I’ve had a lot of fans ask me what the deal is with Herman Johnson and Brandon Keith. Simple – neither is ready on the level of Bridges. Yet. Gandy is going to be a free agent at the end of the season and we could be (probably are?) looking at an Antonio Smith-Calais Campbell thing going on. Whisenhunt said Johnson remains raw and, don’t forget, he played guard in college and the Cards want to use him at tackle. Keith is further along, although he’s been working at guard and Whisenhunt said the Cards envision him as a tackle.
— For all the gnashing of teeth regarding the offense’s perceived ups and downs, Kurt Warner is on pace for 32 touchdown passes – which would eclipse the franchise record of 30, set by Warner last season.
— Safety Antrel Rolle, during a part of practice Friday when he wasn’t needed, took a ball and stood on the south goal line and threw a bomb toward teammate Karlos Dansby – and it landed on the other 25-yard line. There’s no question Rolle has got an arm.
— Fitz, talking about whether Beanie Wells will get that “big” breakout game: “They are splitting carries. If you were to give the ball to Beanie 30 times or Tim (Hightower) 30 times, they would have 100-yard games. But when you are just getting 12 carries, 15 carries and trying to keep guys healthy and keep balance, sometimes it is going to be difficult to have those really big games.”
— It looks like the Cards will be without linebackers Gerald Hayes and Chike Okeafor, both of whom are battling back problems. They showed, with Ali Highsmith, they can get away with not having Hayes like last week. But it will hurt to not have Okeafor as a pass rush option; as I said, I think the Seahawks will throw a lot and the Cards could use a rotation of fresh rushers.
Or maybe Rolle, Adrian Wilson, Bryant McFadden and DRC can just make sure no one catches the ball.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle, Beanie Wells, Brandon Keith, Bryant McFadden, Chike Okeafor, DRC, Gerald Hayes, Herman Johnson, Jeremy Bridges, Karlos Dansby, Ken Whisenhunt, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Ware, Mike Gandy, roof, Seneca Wallace, Tim Hightower
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