Rackers’ groin forces backup plan UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on November 26, 2009 – 8:33 am

With kicker Neil Rackers still nursing a sore groin, the Cardinals apparently will work out contacted veteran kickers Mike Nugent and Matt Bryant. There was the report of a tryout, but there was no tryout — just a backup plan in case Rackers worsens. Rackers is expected to play.

Rackers is a gutty guy and he’d have to be pretty bad to not go, I’d suspect. Plus, running back Tim Hightower works on his kicking weekly, so he can serve in a pinch. Rackers hurt his hamstring during warmups of the Carolina game but he got past that. Rackers seemed OK yesterday.

I’ll say this: Unlike any other position, you can usually bring in a kicker at the last second — Saturday? — and still have it work out without practice, so the Cards can afford to wait and see.

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Warner practices; Davis out 4-to-6 weeks

Posted by Darren Urban on November 25, 2009 – 1:44 pm

The good news was that QB Kurt Warner practiced today, although he’s still doing the day-by-day thing. Warner took all his normal reps and I’d still expect him to play barring setbacks. The same can’t be said for up-and-coming LB Will Davis, whose troublesome knee turned out to have a torn meniscus. Davis already had surgery but is out 4-to-6 weeks (hello Monty Beisel!).

Warner passed all his tests Tuesday, for those wondering.

CB Bryant McFadden (knee) was back in a limited capacity, but he should be OK I believe. LB Chike Okeafor was also back at practice.

I’ll have more in a notebook posted on the home page ASAP.

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Warner on the field today

Posted by Darren Urban on November 25, 2009 – 10:37 am

Quarterback Kurt Warner is out on the field for the beginning of practice and, at least by this early look, seems like he’ll be practicing today. We’ll see how much he is able to do — he could turn out to be limited — but the fact he is at least going to take part is a positive sign for his availability this week. Further updates will come later, after practice and after Warner and coach Ken Whisenhunt meet with the media. Obviously, that’ll be one of the big stories of the day.

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Beisel comes back, Byrd cut

Posted by Darren Urban on November 24, 2009 – 1:59 pm

Searching for depth at linebacker – especially after Gerald Hayes and Chike Okeafor missing games with back problems and having the inexperienced Reggie Walker and Ali Highsmith on the roster – the Cardinals brought back veteran Monty Beisel today. The Cards wanted Beisel when his contract expired after last season , but Beisel instead followed Todd Haley to Kansas City. Then Beisel was cut after just three games and has been searching for a job since. He had been in contact with the Cardinals in an attempt to come back since then.

To make room on the roster, the Cards decided they couldn’t hang on to four tight ends any longer. They released Dominique Byrd, who had yet to appear active in a regular-season game this season. With Anthony Becht and Ben Patrick taking hold of the two tight end spots on game day and Stephen Spach a more accomplished blocker than Byrd, Byrd was the odd man out.

The Cardinals also brought back a couple of familiar faces to the practice squad: linebacker Pago Togafau and defensive end Jason Banks. Both Banks and Togafau were injured during training camp and eventually received injury settlements. They take the place of FB Jed Collins and DT Antoine Holmes, who were released from the practice squad.

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Flexed and other odds, ends

Posted by Darren Urban on November 24, 2009 – 9:34 am

The game against the Vikings was always going to be high-profile, with the Vikings rolling along and Brett Favre and Adrian Petersen, etc., etc. But now that it’s been moved to “Sunday Night Football” it’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinals respond given their last home game under the lights didn’t go so well.

Still, it’s Titans first, right?

Anyway, some other things to throw out there while I am thinking about them:

— The Big Red Rage this week will have Bertrand Berry hosting Adrian Wilson. Because of Thanksgiving, the show will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler. The show will be tape delayed on Sports 620 KTAR after the Suns’ game, and then re-aired on KTAR on Friday at 5:30 p.m.

— Linebacker Karlos Dansby will be making an appearance next week, Dec. 1, at the Chandler Village Verizon Wireless store (2491 W Frye) from 6-7 p.m. Cheerleaders and Big Red will also be on hand.

— Finally, running back Beanie Wells is up for the league’s Pepsi Rookie of the Week award, for which you can vote for by clicking here.

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Warner: “I don’t know if I feel 100 percent”

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2009 – 7:16 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt talked Monday about the tests Kurt Warner will undergo to make sure he can play after his apparent concussion, but there has been a sense that Warner would be able to play in Tennessee in a few days. Warner himself said that after the game.

But with Warner working — as usual — at the Cardinals’ annual Feed the Hungry holiday event at the Phoenix Rescue Mission, the quarterback sounded a lot more cautious.

“You always take it one day at a time, especially with a head injury,” Warner said Monday afternoon. “I feel pretty good today. I don’t know if I feel 100 percent right now. So that’s how I approach it. We’re going to be safe and we’re going to make sure I am good to go before I get back out there. But I feel a lot better today than I did yesterday, and that’s progress.”

That doesn’t mean Warner won’t play this week. He’s expected to get his initial baseline test Tuesday. However Warner was feeling, it didn’t stop him from taking part, along with nine other teammates talking and helping the homeless.

“The one thing you realize is it doesn’t take much brainpower to serve,” Warner said.

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Whiz talks Warner

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2009 – 11:32 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt had his day-after press conference and, as you’d expect, much of the talk was about QB Kurt Warner. Not that there was anything new — Warner had a long talk with Whisenhunt on the plane flight home discussing strategy and Tennessee (Warner was even watching Titans video already) — and it certainly seems like it’ll be an upset if Warner isn’t able to play this coming week. He’ll have a baseline test (probably tomorrow) to test his head — again, at this point, he has “concussion-like symptoms” and has not officially been diagnosed with a concussion — and go from there.

— The other significant injury was the right knee bruise of CB Bryant McFadden, and as usual, Whisenhunt didn’t have anything new on that front. The injury isn’t feared to be serious, so from there, I guess we have to wait until Wednesday to see if McFadden can go. Even if he does end up playing this week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him miss some practice time. But that’s just a guess.

— Whiz said LB Chike Okeafor (back) should return to practice. He didn’t make the trip to St. Louis because they didn’t want him sitting on a plane for three hours.

— Finally, Whisenhunt again was talking a lot about backup QB Matt Leinart. One key point: “There were a lot of things we didn’t allow him to do,” Whisenhunt said, noting the Cards preferred to stay “close to the vest” and avoid big losses or turnovers as the Rams dialed up heavier pressure.

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Rams aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2009 – 12:28 am

An odd game in St. Louis. More late-game heart stoppage when you didn’t think there would be any. Heck, before Kurt Warner left the game – probably right about the time Beanie Wells powered over in a manly one-yard touchdown run – I wondered how much yardage Warner was going to pile up throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin before coach Ken Whisenhunt put Matt Leinart in.

Instead, Leinart had to come in.

There will be plenty of people breaking down Leinart’s time in the game. It didn’t make you forget the starter was out with a possible concussion,  but it wasn’t the disaster some will inevitably make it out to be. Under different circumstances, for instance, Whisenhunt might have let Neil Rackers try a 51-yard field goal – in a dome, remember – on the first drive of the second half. Leinart took the Cards from their own 15 to the cusp of field-goal range before Whisenhunt stayed conservative and punted.

It makes sense. The Rams had done nothing offensively and there was little reason, with an 18-point lead, to give them life with good field position (and indeed, punter Ben Graham pinned the Rams at their own 2). But maybe points there changes how Leinart’s day went, especially since the next possession was the one where the Cards couldn’t convert on third-and-1.

Anyway, on to other thoughts in the wake of the win:

— The running game has been tremendous. The Cards have 487 rushing yards the past three games, an average of 162.3 per game. The first seven games of the season, the Cards totaled 454 rushing yards, an average of 64.8. Their overall ranking will still be low, but it’s clear the Cards are a better running team than that ranking.

— Rookie linebacker Will Davis – who got his second sack Sunday — might be a find as a sixth-round pick. With Chike Okeafor out, the Cards have needed Davis, and seems to have surpassed veteran Bertrand Berry for playing time in some key spots.

— The Cardinals used running back Jason Wright as a fullback on one play Sunday. You have to give Whisenhunt props in his ability to shuffle his personnel and use them in different ways. RB Tim Hightower spent some time split wide too.

— Quietly, Anquan Boldin had another big game. It got lost in the running exploits of Hightower and Beanie Wells and the injury to Kurt Warner, but he’s back to playing at a Pro Bowl level. If he can just stay healthy, it’s going to be a bi.. err, very difficult to defend the Cards.

— Wide receiver Steve Breaston was shut out of making a catch for the first time since playing in Washington the third game of last season. Breaston doesn’t really care about such things, but it does hurt him in his quest to get to the 75-reception mark. Then again, if anyone noticed, not only is Fitz on pace for Pro Bowl numbers but Boldin’s pace (85 receptions, 1,020 yards) is getting back there too.

— Leinart acknowledged he had a little problem with high throws. Whisenhunt said it’s partially because Leinart just hasn’t gotten enough playing time. It is an issue Leinart has worked with a lot with quarterbacks coach Chris Miller. “It’s been my little problem this season and I have been working hard to fix stuff on my release,” Leinart said. “I know when I throw a high pass, I know exactly why so I have to correct those things and that’s what I try to (fix) during the week.”

— With Bryant McFadden out with a knee injury, the Rams did their best to pick on 5-foot-8 backup Michael Adams. But there was one play where anyone could see why the Cards like Adams. The Rams ran a pitch wide left for 235-pound Steven Jackson. The only man in his way was Adams, all 181 pounds of him. Adams came up and stuck Jackson with a textbook tackle at the knees. One yard gain. It’s all about angles.

— Safety Adrian Wilson didn’t get his 20th sack, but he did get his 21st interception (Didn’t seem like Wilson was given many shots to rush the QB in St. Louis). That’ll have to be good enough for this week. Wonder if he can chase down the elusive Vince Young.

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Warner leaves with head injury

Posted by Darren Urban on November 22, 2009 – 3:19 pm

QB Kurt Warner just went to the locker room with what was announced as a head injury, which I assume to mean a possible concussion. His return is questionable. Matt Leinart will come in, and I would guess with the way the Cards are running their offense can still be very effective. Always helps to have a big lead if your quarterback has to sit.

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McFadden hurts knee

Posted by Darren Urban on November 22, 2009 – 3:01 pm

CB Bryant McFadden has a right knee contusion and his return is questionable. Michael Adams will replace him for now.

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