Packers game officially a sellout

Posted by Darren Urban on December 31, 2009 – 2:00 pm

The game Sunday against the Packers has been officially announced as a sellout, meaning it will be aired on local television (Fox, Ch. 10). There are a handful of scattered seats still available however, so it’s not too late to get in the building if you want. It’s the 42nd straight time the Cards have sold out at University of Phoenix Stadium — every single home date, preseason and postseason included, since the building opened in 2006.

With the Packers or Cowboys due for the first round of the playoffs should the Cards not earn the No. 2 seed and the bye, I’d guess a playoff sellout is a lock as well (not that it should matter on the opponent).

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Whiz reveals a bit more

Posted by Darren Urban on December 31, 2009 – 1:39 pm

There wasn’t any change on the injury front Thursday, with safety Antrel Rolle (thigh) still sitting out and kicker Neil Rackers (groin) doing a bit more but still limited. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said, assuming Rackers continues to progress, that Rackers should play Sunday against the Packers. We’ll see on Rolle. But that may depend on a game in the Metrodome three hours earlier than the Cards’ game.

“It’s going to depend on what happens in the game before us, no doubt,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ll obviously make some decisions based on how the Minnesota-Giants game goes, not only with the health of our players but certain other players. That will factor into it. You have to be smart in this game and make sure you err to the side of having a healthy team heading into the playoffs.”

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On the Rage and cell phones

Posted by Darren Urban on December 31, 2009 – 9:51 am

A few things to pass on:

— The Big Red Rage this week is tonight, live at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler. Bertrand Berry’s guest is wide receiver Early Doucet. If you can’t make it, it will be aired on Sports 620 KTAR, but there couldn’t be a better way to kick off New Year’s Eve festivities, right?

— Pro Bowler Darnell Dockett will be signing autographs this coming Tuesday (Jan. 5) at the Verizon Wireless store at Desert Ridge (21001 North Tatum Blvd in Phoenix) from 6-7 p.m. The first 15 customers to activate service receive a pair of tickets to the home playoff game.

— Speaking of cell phones, the Cardinals are teaming with Verizon to collect unused used cell phones and phone accessories at Sunday’s game (drop boxes will be located at stadium Gate 1, guest assistance spots and at the Verizon booth on the Great Lawn).  The program is used to help victims of domestic violence.

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After practice Wednesday

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2009 – 2:07 pm

Safety Antrel Rolle sat out practice today with a bruised thigh, but coach Ken Whisenhunt sounded like he wasn’t that worried about the situation. Defensive end Kenny Iwebema was limited with a head injury as well. A handful of guys that were listed as limited — K Neil Rackers (groin), TE Ben Patrick (head), FB Dan Kreider (neck), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe), special-teamer Sean Morey (head) and RB Beanie Wells (groin) — should be fine. Also fine are WR Larry Fitzgerald and CB Greg Toler, each of whom hurt their elbows Sunday.

Much of the talk today was about the same subject as Monday — what to do against the Packers when there is a good chance the Cards will see them a second time. The answers were all the same: We play hard, but it’s the coach’s decision. Whisenhunt reiterated he will likely make choices Sunday.

(Packers coach Mike McCarthy, by the way, said on the conference call the Packers will play to win and keep momentum.)

The Cardinals also had a change in the practice squad after guard Trevor Canfield — one of the Cards’ seventh-round picks this year — signed with the Seahawks. Replacing him was guard Jonathan Palmer, who has bounced around the league.

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Philly-Dallas impacts more than playoffs

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2009 – 9:51 am

The Cardinals’ playoff seeding likely will be determined in part by the outcome of the Philadelphia-Dallas game, but that result will also make a difference in next year’s schedule. That’s because the Cardinals play the NFC East winner at some point in 2010 — meaning Sunday’s victor between the Cowboys and Eagles will visit University of Phoenix Stadium.

That’s the only opponent left undetermined for the Cards for 2010. Here is the schedule (dates and times will be announced in April):


  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • St. Louis
  • New Orleans
  • Tampa Bay
  • Denver
  • Oakland
  • Winner of Philadelphia/Dallas game


  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • St. Louis
  • Atlanta
  • Carolina
  • Kansas City
  • San Diego
  • Minnesota

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Pro Bowl possibilities — Fitz, Dockett are in

Posted by Darren Urban on December 29, 2009 – 12:10 pm

UPDATE: Both Darnell Dockett (here) and Larry Fitzgerald (here) have tweeted that each have been named Pro Bowl starters. UPDATE II: Here’s the full story.

In a few hours, the Pro Bowl rosters for this season will be announced (it’ll be at 5 p.m. Arizona time on the NFL Network, and hopefully will have the local news ASAP, so check back then). I expect the Cards to be represented well, based on the seasons some players have had and the fan voting. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a lock, as is safety Adrian Wilson. I think two players who should be locks (but we’re trying to not count our chickens …) are punter Ben Graham and defensive tackle (for Pro Bowl purposes) Darnell Dockett. I also think cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (below, talking to A-Dub) has a chance, although perhaps another step down. And I wouldn’t be surprised if QB Kurt Warner and WR Anquan Boldin are in the alternate mix, as would be FS Antrel Rolle.

That’s another twist to all this. Since the Pro Bowl will be played the week before the Super Bowl, I think alternates will be involved more than ever before. The two teams in the Super Bowl won’t have anyone playing (Cardinals?) and you are also shaving two weeks off of rest meaning some other players might not want to get in the game.

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Visual evidence on playoff scenarios

Posted by Darren Urban on December 29, 2009 – 9:36 am

Thanks to VP of media relations Mark Dalton, here is a handy-dandy chart sorting out the Cards’ possibilities (and the whole NFC’s possibilities) for the playoff picture:

Week 17 possibilities Seed 1 Seed 2 Seed 3 Seed 4 Seed 5 Seed 6

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Monday’s Whiz reflections

Posted by Darren Urban on December 28, 2009 – 11:54 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt talked about what his plans are for the Packers since it’s likely the Cards will play them not only in the finale but also in the playoffs. Right now, Whiz’s answers are he doesn’t know. The Cards will game-plan like it will be a game of significance, but may pull back if something changes in the early games depending on the outcomes. That goes for the amount of detail in the game plan and with how much the starters will play. I’ll have more in a homepage story later today on the subject. It helps the Cards to prepare this week anyway because the playoff game might be on Saturday and the Cards can jump-start playoff prep.

A couple other notes:

— Whisenhunt said, after he went back and looked at the tape, he was actually not as upset with the offensive line’s protection — and he was asked specifically about tackles Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges — as he twas originally. “I think for the most part our line played a very good game yesterday,” Whisenhunt said. “We had one or two plays on the edge with Jeremy and that’s going to happen in a game. We will continue to work on correcting those things. Anytime you spread out like we do and expose the edge, you have to be aware those things can happen. It’s a risk-reward thing.

“We just have to be a little more aware, like we did against Minnesota, that we give those guys some help in certain situations as far as chips or body presence. I’m not disappointed at all in the way those guys played. I was upset after the game because my perception of how our line played was not what it actually was. If you look at how Levi played and how physical he was and some of the things he did in protection, I actually was impressed with how he played and Jeremy … for the most part, did a nice job.”

— Injury-wise, the Cards seem to be in good shape. Whisenhunt had no new updates on the left elbow injuries to Larry Fitzgerald and Greg Toler, but neither are expected to be serious. Fitz certainly doesn’t think so. Kicker Neil Rackers (groin) kicked a little Saturday and will kick again today to see where he is in his rehab. Fullback Dan Kreider (neck) should be fine, and tight end Ben Patrick and receiver Sean Morey (both have concussions) should be back this week.

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Seeding possibilities and the probable Packers UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on December 28, 2009 – 10:17 am

With the Vikings playing in Chicago tonight, here is where the Cards set up in terms of playoff seeding. As of right now, the Cards are the No. 4 seed (and remember, the higher seed hosts each playoff matchup):

— To reach the No. 2 seed (and get a first-round bye), the Cardinals need 1) the Vikings to lose to the Bears and again to the Giants next week in Minnesota; 2) to beat the Packers next week; and 3) the Cowboys to beat the Eagles in Dallas.

— The Packers can’t rise above the No. 5 seed because the Vikings have already clinched the division. They would hold the tiebreak over Dallas and Philadelphia in the event of a tie, although the Packers could lose to the Cards and fall to No. 6 if the Cowboys beat Philly.

— If the Vikings officially eliminate the Cards’ bye chances by winning tonight, the Cards can end up as the No. 3 seed if they beat the Packers and the Cowboys beat the Eagles. The Cards would hold the tiebreak over Dallas based on win-loss percentage against common opponents.

— The Cards, unless they get that No. 2 seed, will have to travel for the second round of the playoffs. Given the above scenarios, it seems a lock the Cards will host the Packers in the first round because if the Packers beat the Cards, the Packers lock up No. 5 and the Cards are stuck at No. 4 regardless. And if the Cards reach No. 3, they will have beaten the Packers and Dallas would have beaten Philly, meaning the Packers would fall behind the Eagles as the No. 6 seed and travel to No. 3 Arizona.

UPDATE: Maybe I was just assuming (and that’s never a good thing) the Vikings would win tonight, but here is one No. 3 seed/playing the Cowboys-instead-of-the-Pack reality: If the Vikings lose both games and the Eagles beat the Cowboys, the Saints would be No. 1, the Eagles No. 2, the Cards and Vikings would tie and the Cards would be No. 3 because they beat Minnesota head-to-head. The Packers would be No. 5, the Cowboys No. 6, and Dallas would visit Glendale in the first round.

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Rams aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2009 – 11:18 pm

There was one question I wanted to ask Early Doucet after Sunday’s rollover of the Rams. On his first NFL touchdown – an 18-yard pass from Kurt Warner – what was more difficult, making the play or surviving Larry Fitzgerald’s bone-jarring thrown-down tackle milliseconds later (pictured here)?

“Surviving the tackle,” Doucet said, grinning. “He told me, ‘If you ever get a touchdown, you’ll never celebrate yourself because I’m coming to the end zone.’ ” Fitz confirmed that version, saying “He told us he had a touchdown dance and I told him he wasn’t going to do it.” So he didn’t. Doucet scored, Fitz threw him down before Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston joined in a dogpile celebration.

“He slammed me to the ground and I couldn’t do anything but enjoy the moment,” Doucet said. “It was a good feeling.”

These are the things talked about after a three-touchdown win over a team that you should beat. First touchdowns and celebrations. Milestones, like A-Dub finally getting that sack he needed for his induction to 20/20 or Warner reaching 100 TD passes with his second team or DRC getting his sixth interception, which is the most for the Cards since Dexter Jackson had that many in 2006.

So much to touch on, so before I head off to bed:

— Yes, it was a Rams’ team severely short-handed, even on defense. But the Cards took their shots downfield Sunday and even got their biggest play of the season, a 45-yard bomb to Steve Breaston (topping the 44-yard catch-and-run of Boldin in New York in October).

— The Cards have more than 40 sacks in a season for the first time since moving to Arizona. They have 41 on the season.

— Boldin should be over 1,000 yards receiving. He is 14 yards short, a number that was taken care of on a 28-yard catch late in the third quarter – except an illegal shift on rookie LaRod Stephens-Howling negated the play. “I’m very upset,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said of that penalty, because the play had “really created momentum for us.”

— With Pro Bowlers being announced Tuesday, it’s too bad Boldin’s injuries threw off his early season showing. Because he is playing at a Pro Bowl level, and he has been at that level for a few weeks now.

— Tackle Levi Brown looked like he struggled Sunday, and generally, Whisenhunt said he was “a little disappointed in our protection today at times.” Obviously, that’s an area that needs to hold up when the Cards start playing postseason games.

— The Cardinals need the Vikings to lose Monday night in Chicago to keep hope alive to achieve the No. 2 playoff seed and a bye. So Fitzgerald – who grew up in Minnesota and was a Vikings ballboy and doesn’t really hide the idea he still roots for the Vikings – was asked who he will be rooting for in Bears-Vikings. “I’m from Minnesota, man,” Fitzgerald said, pausing before saying, “I want the Bears to wi…, ahh, yeah. We’ll see what happens.” It brought laughs, even from Fitzgerald. So yeah, we will see what happens.

— Jason Wright did an admirable job filling in at fullback after the last-second neck stiffness kept Dan Kreider, the Cards’ lone fullback, out. Beanie Wells had a nice game (17 carries, 68 yards and a score) but it seemed like, with Kreider around, he might have been even more effective.

— Calais Campbell tied Darnell Dockett for most sacks on the team with seven. Bertrand Berry is just one behind. What a race.

— Considering he had some tough moments in coverage this season (I’m thinking against the Bears for sure, and maybe a couple of other instances), safety Adrian Wilson actually has done well against the pass. He now has five interceptions and he’s made some nice pass breakups too. That shouldn’t be forgotten – although I am sure he’ll have a third Pro Bowl selection come Tuesday.

— It was nice to see A-Dub get to 20/20. If it wasn’t going to happen today, though … I mean, on that final Rams’ possession in which Wilson got Null for his second sack of the season, Wilson might as well have been a defensive end. He came off the edge on the rush on every one of the five plays, including his takedown.

— Finally, Whisenhunt said he thought about taking Warner out for Matt Leinart earlier than the three-minute mark, but “I kept wanting one more score in the second half. I wanted to make sure there was a point of emphasis for our football team that we got the 10th win.”

— Oh, Warner delivered the 10th win. Heck, Warner even delivered a 10-yard run. Who’s that, Chris Johnson I spy? Nope. Just Kurt.

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