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The Hyphen talks punt returns, Sproles

Posted by Darren Urban on September 30, 2010 – 4:56 pm

First things first: LaRod Stephens-Howling isn’t going to return punts. Not right now. The Hyphen has talked to special teams coach Kevin Spencer about it, and he’s given it a try in practice. But it’s just not The Hyphen.

“I mean, returning punts is one of the hardest jobs there is,” Stephens-Howling said. “It is something I work on every offseason and I try to get more comfortable at it. That’s not to say I won’t do it in the future. I’ll keep working on it, and hopefully I will get comfortable enough to be able to do it.”

Told the fan base wouldn’t mind him having a shot, Stephens-Howling smiled. “It feels good they have that confidence,” he said. He just doesn’t have the confidence right now.

That’s one of the few things The Hyphen isn’t comfortable with, however. His 102-yard kickoff return Sunday was a huge play (broken down right here, and on video right here). He’s a long way since draft day 2009 when he broke down multiple times – including on a conference call with reporters – because he was so happy to be picked.

Coincidentally, Stephens-Howling draws comparisons to another small running back, Darren Sproles, who happens to play for the team the Cards will see Sunday – the Chargers. Sproles also has played a role in where Stephens-Howling is today.

Seems the offensive line coach at Pitt when LSH was in college – Paul Dunn – was at Kansas State when Sproles was there. Stephens-Howling followed Sproles closely when Sproles was in college and LSH in high school. When The Hyphen got to Pitt, Dunn put on video of Sproles to show what Dun thought Stephens-Howling could be. “That was the film that let me know I had a shot at the NFL,” Stephens-Howling said.

Stephens-Howling, all 5-foot-7 of him, has already changed the way coach Ken Whisenhunt looks at smaller players. “I have certainly learned a great lesson with LaRod,” Whiz said. “I think it’s easy to look at a player’s size and have preconceived ideas what his limitations are. … I can say now, my thinking on that has changed tremendously.”

The Hyphen and Sproles met for the first time following the Cards-Chargers preseason game in 2009. They briefly talked about Dunn and their spots in the league.

“We’re the underdogs,” The Hyphen said. “We don’t get much but when we get the opportunity we try and get all we can.”


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Posted in Blog | 30 Comments »


30 Responses to “The Hyphen talks punt returns, Sproles”

  1. By Tyrelle on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    I’ll take Hyphen over Sproles.

  2. By Boondock on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    I would love to see The Hyphen get more touches every game, I could see him as our own little Reggie Bush/Dexter McCluster ace in the hole.

  3. By Marlon Skrusinski on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    LaRod is by far one of my favourite players on the roster. He’s shown he got what it takes to be a very good NFL player, and I dare to say he’s one of the best Card’s players untill week 3.

    He’s shown the game is not just about size, but effort, work ethic and desire to win. If size mattered that much, Jamarcus Russel would be one of the best in the league.

    Hopefully he’ll get more playing time.

    Darren –

    I usually don’t comment that much, I’m much more of a reader, but I’d like to thank you for the updates, analyses and your sincere opinion about this team situation.

  4. By Jesse robles on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Hyphen is sick, I hope he stays here a while.

  5. By tRiGiDy22 on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Hyphen is a Play-maker, we need too give him the Rock”.

    Darren, how many touches Hyphen get a Game?? An Can he Throw?(Maybe) Be are wildbird??

  6. By kyleb on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Think about this, how bad woul it be to have a usc qb that took the check down pass when none of wrs were open and took the deep ball when it was there does that seem like something you have seen. Oh my god thats the jets how terrible is that but no we have what all of you peeps wanted all preseason an inconsistant qb and everyone calling for a rookie. boy i would rather be the jets in whiz i dont trust.

  7. By Kevin Phillips on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    I just wanted to thank you very much for the Anatomy of A Kickoff Return. I’m a late fan of watching football, but since I’ve started getting into it, I’ve been a big Cardinals fan (was drawn in to the game by the magic of Fitz).

    I’ve never really put much thought into what goes into a kickoff return. Your breakdown of the return was well written and entertaining. It drew me even more into the game (and the Cards). I hope we get to see more like it, more often – for us that don’t know everything about football yet. It only makes us stronger fans! Now I am seeing the magic of the Hyphen!!

  8. By Rick on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Darren :
    I just want to follow up on what Marion S. just said. I’m am more of a reader than a contributor. However, I also want to thank you for the wonderful job you do with respect to the reports, articles, and updates you provide on this website. I’m a hugh Cardinal fan, and very much look forwarded to reading
    the thoughtful and interesting postings you provide all of us each day. You would be a very difficult man (writer) to replace. So, I hope they pay you well
    because you sure earn every penny of it.

  9. By Darren Urban on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Trigidy –

    RE: Hyphen touches

    Hard to tell. Hightower and Beanie come first. And no, I don’t think he can throw.

  10. By Darren Urban on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Kevin –

    RE: Anatomy of a kickoff return

    That means a lot to me. I liked how the story turned out too. Thanks for saying something. http://www.azcardinals.com/news-and-events/article-1/Anatomy-Of-A-Kick-Return/ed8acbd0-4781-485a-91a8-db3dba06958c

  11. By Darren Urban on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Rick –

    RE: Compliment

    Maybe I should print your note to take to my boss when I ask for a raise (of course, they could print out a couple of other commenters to counteract that).

  12. By Lloyd Christmas on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    “That’s not to say I won’t do it in the future.”
    So you’re saying there still a chance LaRuSH will return punts.
    I get what you’re saying, Darren.

  13. By Brad O'Neill on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    i just had a horrible thought. What if Parcels ends up in san francisco? if that occurs san fran will get better in a hurry. and we really will have three contenders in the division. i know calling us and seattle contenders is kind of a joke in the current state of things but i really hope parcels stays as far east as possible. i do not want to battle a team he is advising in any capacity.

  14. By CardsFanSince60 on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Darren:
    Awesome analysis!

  15. By Eazy E on Sep 30, 2010 | Reply

    Great pick by cards brass in the 7th round and LSH is a playmaker. The sproles comparisons are on point.

  16. By joe67 on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    I really wish Coach would go into the archives and look at some tape of the way Coryell used Terry Metcalf. Somewhat simlilar players, and they used to get Metcalf a whole lot of touches.

  17. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Bruce Gradkowski’s 10.6 yards per attempt average leads all NFL quarterbacks this season.

    Darren now that is sad?? Can’t DA Bomb it 11yrds? on Avg.(With that Cannon?)

  18. By CardsFan on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for the post. This is exactly the info I was looking for. Now we just need to figure out a way to get LSH that confidence so he will start taking punts to the house too!!

  19. By Darren Urban on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Trigidy –

    RE: Bombs

    The Raiders are all about the long ball. Always have been. You have to complete some to have that average though.

  20. By Mike T on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for the video Darren. Its awesome to see if from the different angles and also up close to hear the crowd. I made it out to that game and opening kickoff is by far the best but when we can return it for a score the energy is crazy.

  21. By Rick on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Darrin -

    RE: Compliment

    Feel free to show it to your boss. I have no doubt the vast majority of readers
    feel the same way I do about your work on this website.

  22. By MikeG on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Nice article on the kickoff return–really enjoyed that. I know it seems every week I ask you about Gabe Watson– whether he will play. I feel it is important to get him in there. I’m really surprised he has been inactive the first three weeks. I feel real strong he should be in their instead of Robinson–would really improve our run defense. Do you think there is something going on behind the scenes we don’t know about concerning Gabe?? He’s a run stuffer!!!! —No hidden injury???

  23. By Darren Urban on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    MikeG –

    RE: Watson

    He isn’t hurt. Just behind Robinson and Dan Williams.

  24. By MikeG on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Darren–Also –Outside of the Cardinals discussion–What did you think of the Jets playing Braylon Edwards last week??? I thought it was a disgrace from
    the Jet organization to play him after the DUI(miltiple times). It shows a lack of respect to the game and a sense of desperation from the Jets. Some Teams don’t show any discipline toward their players. It makes them and the NFL look bad!!–no accountability. If it were me or you–we’d be in jail!!!

  25. By Darren Urban on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    MikeG –

    RE: Braylon

    I think that’s up to them. I am a little surprised, but then again, usually football trumps all.

  26. By kingdiamond on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Not only was your analysis fantastic, but the video shown three ways was sheer genius!

    I agree with all of the other readers that your blog is a great resource and very few if not any compare with the job you do! It is great reading your blog a couple times of day!

    Michael Bidwill: Please note that Darren fills seats too! SIgn him to an extension!

  27. By Barry on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    I think LaRod has got some great first steps in the back field. He’s very slippery…He’s already made some great running plays that niether Hightower or Beanie made. I’d like to maybe see him as a 3rd down back for extra yrds…he finds a way to get open thats for sure especially for a little guy! Go LHS!

  28. By Marlon Skrusinski on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Let’s start an online petition to get Darren an extension! ;)

  29. By Rodgerscromartie17 on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Would Rodgers-Cromartie make a good punt returner? Lord knows not a player is fast enough in the league to catch him

  30. By Barry Bond on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    God bless LaRod-Stephens-Howling and I am so proud of you. And yes I seen your response on draft day to be given an opportunity by the Cardinals. LSH you DESERVE it. I know at the U of Pittsburgh you were the back up to Sean McCoy (Philadelphia Eagles) and that has to be considered honorable mention. I was at the stadium last Sunday and I am over joyed for you. I was also at the stadium at last years pre season game when you broke for a long gainer against the SD Chargers. How about doing that again in Sunday’s game at Qual Com Stadium in San Diego? Love ya LaRod. GO CARDINALS!

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