Warner’s 100th is Doucet’s 1st

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2009 – 3:04 pm

Kurt Warner’s 100th touchdown pass as a member of the Cardinals was Early Doucet’s first touchdown in the NFL, an 18-yard scoring catch that made the score 14-0. Now the offense is clicking — it seems Tim Hightower is going to get showcased a bit more than recent weeks — as the Cards are in control.

Warner is the second QB in NFL history to throw at least 100 TDs for two different teams (Fran Tarkenton, Giants and Vikings).

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Toler makes first NFL pick

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2009 – 2:23 pm

Rookie cornerback Greg Toler just made his first NFL interception on the struggling Keith Null. The Rams don’t have a great offense anyway, but it looks like if the Cards make the Rams pass, it’s going to be difficult for Null to do much. DE Calais Campbell also got a sack, tying him with Darnell Dockett for the team lead this season with seven.

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Kreider inactive, as is Steven Jackson UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2009 – 12:45 pm

The Cardinals’ inactive list has one surprise — fullback Dan Kreider, who wasn’t hurt so I can only guess right now is out for strategic purposes (Beanie and Hightower playing together?). There is a bigger surprise for the Rams: running back Steven Jackson won’t play, taking away the Rams’ one weapon. UPDATE: Kreider woke up with a stiff neck today and was held out of the game as a precaution.

For the Cards, tight end Ben Patrick and wide receiver Sean Morey are both out with concussions, meaning receiver Jerheme Urban and tight end Stephen Spach are active for the first time in a while. The rest of the inactives:

  • K Neil Rackers (groin)
  • QB Brian St. Pierre
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • OL Herman Johnson

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Roof will be open today

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2009 – 10:47 am

Many ask and here is the answer: The roof will be open for today’s game against the Rams. The last time the roof was open was last Dec. 14 in a loss to Minnesota, although the Cards are 5-2 with the roof open at home under coach Ken Whisenhunt. The roof was open three times last season, with the Cards winning twice (against the Rams and 49ers).

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Friday — Christmas — before the Rams

Posted by Darren Urban on December 25, 2009 – 4:41 pm

First, a definition. The “third rail” of politics is a subject so untouchable or controversial that to take it on would mean basically blowing up one’s career. The metaphor comes from the third rail of a railway that is exposed while carrying high voltage power – think a subway system. To step on such a third rail means electrocution and death.

Bet you didn’t think you’d read that on this blog. Ah, but there is a method to the madness.

When talking to Cards analyst Ron Wolfley about Beanie Wells for the story about he and Ottis Anderson, Wolf came up with this gem: “There are running backs, there are scatbacks, and then there are the third-rail backs. Beanie Wells is a third-rail back.” Why? “Because he can run around you, he can go to the right, he can go to the left, or he has the option of dipping and ripping.”

Dipping his shoulder and running people over, in other words. The third rail, in which a back blows up the defender. “When you’ve got a big back who rips it between the tackles for eight yards, 10 yards, 20, you are interfacing with the essence of the game,” Wolfley said. “Every football player has this primal aggression … and Beanie brings that out of the team.”

Obviously, Wolf – who also is a huge fan of Tim Hightower, by the way – loves Beanie and what he brings to the table. I know it’s early in Beanie’s career and the guy barely has 700 yards rushing on the NFL level, but assuming he stays healthy, I am guessing the third rail will stay intact.

Unleashing him on the struggling Rams Sunday could get interesting.

— The talk will continue about how long to play the starters, but for this weekend at least, unless the Cards build a giant lead, I don’t see why the Cards will gear it down against the Rams. The Vikings, the team the Cards are chasing for the unlikely chance to be the No. 2 seed, don’t play until Monday night. You won’t know if they eliminate you from that race, so there is no reason to pull back. Besides, I personally think the Cards need to get back in sync offensively and defensively and make sure they feel better about themselves, something that was lacking a bit after the Detroit win.

— In training camp, Kurt Warner mentioned he felt worn down late last season because it was clear he had to have a great game every game for the Cards to have a chance. Thanks to the running game plowing ahead behind Hightower and Wells, that’s not a concern anymore. “It’s a completely different team this year,” Warner said. “You’ve seen so many games we’ve won in so many different ways. A sign of a good football team is when somebody doesn’t have their ‘A’ game and someone else can step up and win it for you.”

— Speaking of Warner and the now-infamous touchdown-pass-that-wasn’t, I watched one replay – from ground level and the end zone – and immediately thought, “How was that not a forward pass?” But then I went back and watched the TV play (and replay) from the side, and there is little doubt Warner threw the ball a smidge behind the 7-yard line and Anquan Boldin, drifiting backward while in motion, caught it between the 8 and 9. Lateral.

— How unknown is probable Rams starting quarterback Keith Null? Here was Warner when asked about Null on the conference call this week by St. Louis reporters: “I’m sorry, who did you say?” Warner asked before a long pause. “I don’t know a lot about him. I can’t say I’ve seen him play much. Obviously, I guess I’m kind of at a loss.”

— Null at starting quarterback, Steven Jackson playing with a bad back, it all seems to point to a big day for the Cards Sunday … except that’s what we all thought last weekend when the Lions ended up with their backup running back and third-string QB.

— The Cards continue to lead the NFL in red-zone efficiency, converting 68.8 percent of their trips inside the opponent’s 20 into touchdowns.

— Thanks to the TD pass takeaway, Warner still needs two TD tosses to join Fran Tarkenton to be the only QBs to have 100 touchdown passes with two different teams.

— It’ll be interesting to see if the Cards can rev up the passing game. With the possibility the last game against the Packers will be nothing but a glorified scrimmage (because the teams would meet a week later in the playoffs), you know Larry Fitzgerald would like one more bust-out game. And Boldin is sitting at 870 yards receiving, so close to 1,000 that it’d be a shame not to try and get him there.

— Finally, I’m hearing the team won’t be raising the division championship banner this week. Maybe next week against the Packers. Meanwhile, I hope everyone had a good Christmas/holidays. But there’s an NFL season to finish, right?

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Rams game is a sellout

Posted by Darren Urban on December 24, 2009 – 2:00 pm

The Cardinals made it through another season with all sellouts. The Cards have sold out Sunday’s game against the Rams, meaning it will not be a blackout on local TV (the season finale against the Packers is going to be a sellout for sure). It is the 41st Cardinals’ game at University of Phoenix Stadium, and the 41st time it has sold out.

There remain scattered seats for the Rams game, if you are still looking for a way in, but officially, it’s a done deal as the Cards play their first game at home since becoming 2009 NFC West champions.

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On losing Gandy, injuries, and Beanie

Posted by Darren Urban on December 24, 2009 – 1:29 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the decision to put Mike Gandy on IR was tough but “the fact we were probably looking at the (NFC) championship game (for his return) and then to throw him in and compete in that situation is a difficult situation.” Jeremy Bridges is the starter at left tackle now but Whisenhunt said if something were to happen to Bridges, Levi Brown would move from right to left tackle and Brandon Keith would take over at right tackle.

Tight end Ben Patrick and wide receiver Sean Morey (concussions) remain out and will be game-day decisions if cleared. Spach can play for Patrick. Linebacker Will Davis (knee) had another good day and it looks like he will be available this weekend, although we will see if Whisenhunt makes him active.

On a non-injury note — and because I know the Beanie storyline remains topic A for many — Whisenhunt was talking about Wells getting more carries than Tim Hightower of late. Part of it is because Beanie is running well, Whisenhunt said, part is because Hightower’s thumb has been an issue. But, and I know this will bother some out there, that doesn’t mean it won’t balance out again. “It’s play-driven, package driven,” Whisenhunt said. “They can go in and out on a play-by-play basis. It’s really not a conscious effort (to give Beanie more carries) as much as it is a game-plan-type thing.”

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UoP stadium wins decade honor

Posted by Darren Urban on December 24, 2009 – 9:04 am

Sports Illustrated has been releasing tons of sports-related lists and, in what I’d consider something of an mild upset, University of Phoenix Stadium tops the magazine’s top 10 choices for “best new stadium” since 2000. The Cardinals’ home beat out AT&T Park in San Francisco — home of baseball’s Giants. That monster of a new stadium out in Texas built for the Cowboys finished third on the list, new Yankees Stadium was fourth and the Pirates’ PNC Park in Pittsburgh was fifth.

SI mentions the fact UoP hosts not only the Cards but the Fiesta Bowl and already one Super Bowl. “The award-winning design features a roof covered by a translucent fabric and exterior walls made of metallic panels to help with cooling inside. The field can be moved outside on rollers, enabling optimal grass growth in the desert setting.”

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Gandy to IR, Togafau to active roster

Posted by Darren Urban on December 23, 2009 – 4:21 pm

The Cardinals officially put tackle Mike Gandy on injured reserve today after he had surgery to repair a sports hernia Friday, and with the open roster spot, the team promoted linebacker Pago Togafau to the active roster. That open spot on the practice squad allowed the Cards to bring linebacker Ali Highsmith back to the practice squad.

The move with Gandy isn’t a surprise. It was going to be difficult to carry him and then, should he actually make it back to the field, play in a game that, by then would likely be a divisional round or NFC championship game after being off a month or so.

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Kurt loses a TD pass, and after practice

Posted by Darren Urban on December 23, 2009 – 1:56 pm

Every week, the NFL goes over the official scoring of each game and makes corrections. Rarely do they make much of an impact, other than changing whether a player gets a full sack or half-sack. But it did Wednesday, when Kurt Warner’s five-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin to win the game in Detroit was changed to a five-yard touchdown run by Boldin. It was ruled that Warner threw a backward pass, meaning it was a lateral and a rush attempt. It changes Warner’s TD passes for the season from 25 to 24, becomes Q’s first career rushing touchdown, and costs the Cards five passing/receiving yards while adding five rushing yards.

Not a huge deal — unless, of course, Warner was your fantasy QB and you needed those points.

As for practice, the Cards have brought back linebacker Ali Highsmith to the practice squad. Linebacker Will Davis returned to work and said he actually did more than he originally was going to do. And WR Sean Morey and TE Ben Patrick seem to have suffered concussions Sunday, making their availability Sunday in doubt.

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