Talkin’ practice on Thanksgiving eve

Posted by Darren Urban on November 24, 2010 – 2:30 pm

Derek Anderson was doing his weekly press conference with the media after practice Wednesday when, at one point, he was asked about scoring on the opening drive for a second straight week and then basically stalling the rest of the game.

It could have been many different topics to generate the response the quarterback gave. “It’s the same things we have been doing, hurting ourselves,” Anderson said. “Honestly, I’m sick of talking about it just as much as you guys are sick of talking about it.”

Anderson couldn’t have been more accurate.

— Practice ended a little early Wednesday since the Cards will have an extra practice this week because of “Monday Night Football.” They will also have a shorter workout tomorrow and be freed after practice (instead of having meetings) so they can have Thanksgiving with their families.

— Because the game isn’t until Monday, coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t have to release an injury report today. We will have that come out tomorrow (and I will blog about the updates as soon as it comes out, around noon).

— Don’t ask Larry Fitzgerald to get involved in the Twitter back-and-forth with the 49ers, although he’ll get in his verbal jabs during the game. “We talk a lot of trash out there,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t do the Twitter wars. That’s not my thing. … It’s better (on the field). No one else has to know about it. You can say what you want and you don’t have to filter it either.”

What? Fitz would use words that – gasp – have to be filtered in public?

“If someone says something to me, sometimes emotion gets the best of you,” Fitzgerald said with a smile.

— Injuries to cornerbacks Greg Toler (foot) and Michael Adams (undisclosed, but he was banged up Sunday) were a reason the Cards brought cornerback Marshay Green to the active roster, but it was also a reward for working so hard all season. Green, who has spent the season playing both ways on the scout team (Green was a receiver in college for two years before flipping to the other side of the ball), admitted it’s been a “long year” waiting. But he doesn’t want to give up double duty, if Whisenhunt is OK with that.

“I like to play offense and defense,” Green said. “If coach Whisenhunt wants me to go out on offense, I’ll be the first one to say, ‘OK, cool.’ Whatever they want.”

— It doesn’t hurt Green that he has a teammate like Adams, who like Green carved out his place by first doing the job on the practice squad. “Michael kind of set the table for Marshay,” Whisenhunt said.

— Green does have return skills, but Whisenhunt reiterated that he is “very pleased” with Andre Roberts as a punt returner, so that isn’t changing.

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Tonight’s Rage and the practice squad

Posted by Darren Urban on November 24, 2010 – 9:10 am

The Cardinals have brought back running back Alfonso Smith and added defensive end Jeremy Navarre to the practice squad, after having a couple of openings.

And with the Thanksgiving holiday, the Big Red Rage with Adrian Wilson will be tonight instead of tomorrow. A-Dub’s guest at Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler will be defensive end Calais Campbell. As usual, the show will start at 6 p.m., so you can either attend or watch the live video feed here. If you want to hear it on the radio, it will be played tape-delayed on Sports 620 KTAR following the Suns’ game.

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About that Fitz quote

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2010 – 3:10 pm

I was among the reporters sitting around Larry Fitzgerald last week when he did his weekly talk with the media. I was one of the ones asking questions about how hard it was to be mired in a losing streak and, also, if it was harder now than, for example, that eight-game losing streak he and the Cards endured in 2006. Then Fitz said the quote that, apparently, was heard ’round the world.

“This is way worse than before,” Fitzgerald said. “I had never won on this level before. I have tasted the caviar now, and eating out of the garbage is not where I want to be.”

Now, it was a great turn of the phrase. Fitz can be very good at this. But that, and the other things he said about not being able to escape football and the losses right now, hit the national level when Mike Florio of and NBC grabbed hold of it, and suddenly, everyone assumes Fitz has a foot out the door (Of course, Fitz said the words Thursday and I even tweeted it out that day, and it didn’t seem to ripple then, so why the panic three days later?).

My point is context. The “caviar/garbage” line wasn’t uttered in anger. It didn’t sound like a man fed up. (I wish I had audio/video to post, but alas, I do not). Nothing has changed with Fitz because of this losing streak.

Now, don’t get it twisted. I’m not saying Fitzgerald isn’t frustrated, or that he isn’t concerned about the quarterback situation going forward (not that he has ever admitted that). I’m not saying it’s a lock he signs an extension in Arizona. But I am saying, at this point, I still think his signing long-term with the Cards remains the most likely outcome. Fitzgerald was making the point that after winning, losing is much harder to take. It doesn’t always have to have a subtext. In this case, I think he was just calling fish eggs fish eggs, and nothing else.

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Cards bring back Komar, promote Green

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2010 – 11:55 am

The Cardinals shuffled the roster today, including making the expected move of putting linebacker Will Davis on injured reserve with his broken leg. The Cards also cut running back Alfonso Smith, who became redundant with the expected return of both LaRod Stephens-Howling and Jason Wright.

With two spots open on the roster, the Cardinals re-signed wide receiver Max Komar and promoted cornerback Marshay Green from the practice squad (and it will be interesting to see if Green manages to get some work with the Cards’ cornerbacks struggling). For now, the Cards will have an opening on the practice squad.

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Will Davis out with broken leg

Posted by Darren Urban on November 22, 2010 – 11:27 am

Linebacker Will Davis has a fractured fibula, coach Ken Whisenhunt said today, so he is out. It doesn’t help the depth issue, but Whisenhunt said he isn’t overly concerned at the moment. Linebacker Clark Haggans should be OK this week after sitting Sunday with a groin problem — Whisenhunt acknowledged the Cards may have rushed Haggans back the previous week against Seattle — and he noted rookie O’Brien Schofield is getting more practice time. “Not that I am ready to have O’Brien play a significant amount of snaps.”

“It’s disappointing because (Will) was playing fairly well for us,” Whisenhunt said.

Defensive end Calais Campbell has an ankle sprain that needs to be evaluated as the week goes. Whisenhunt did think running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (groin) will be ready this week. The Cards do have an extra day between games because of “Monday Night Football.” Officially, players were off Monday, although a bunch of them were down in the locker room working out.

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Chiefs aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 21, 2010 – 10:10 pm

It felt a little like Chinese water torture Sunday. There were no dramatic shifts in the game, no real knockout punch. The Chiefs just kept drip-drip-dripping their way to a win, and it eventually felt there was no way the Cards could wiggle out from beneath the spigot.

Postgame was about as weary as I have seen coach Ken Whisenhunt. He’s still going to say the right things – that’s how he believes it should be done – but the losing obviously is eating at him. What now? Well, barring a shift in the division race, the Cards are in the week-to-week storyline mode. You don’t look big picture. You shrink it, meaning the much-anticipated-once-upon-a-time Monday night home game (with the black uniforms and I believe a better-than-average chance of an open roof) will have to be an event in itself.

You win – and once again, the Cards will be playing a team on the downslide, so at least it feels like even footing – and reevaluate later.

Since I’ll have basically an extra day to sift through this, I’m keeping this short tonight. (And I doubt I will be getting to the comments tonight, so bear with me. I will approve everything in the morning. I’m not censoring. I’m taking a bit of my life back. There’s not a lot new to say anyway).

— Whisenhunt said there wouldn’t be any personnel changes, but rookie tight end Jim Dray was in there extensively Sunday ahead of Ben Patrick. Dray struggled, but as we get deeper in the season, those are the kinds of developmental moves we may see going forward. (No, I don’t think John Skelton is playing next week).

— Derek Anderson has thrown high passes before but he seemed particularly skewing high Sunday. Maybe the wind was playing a major role, but it made for some harrowing catch attempts. And obviously one of them knocked Early Doucet out of the game.

— Wide receiver Steve Breaston was not a happy camper. “You’ve got to find what motivates you inside. You’ve got to push on. Don’t look for others to make plays. Do it yourself.” It’ll be interesting to see if his message gets across.

— Todd Haley wasn’t going to let Larry Fitzgerald beat him. On the Cards’ second field goal, on the third-down pass, the Chiefs not only double-teamed Fitz but did it with bump coverage with both. The pass ended up incomplete to Breaston.

“(The Chiefs) have done that a couple of times, they did it against (Chargers tight end) Antonio Gates, (Broncos receiver) Brandon Lloyd,” Fitzgerald said. “Anytime they are in the red zone they try to take away the guy who is the most targeted usually.”

— At some point, I would think Whisenhunt will consider heavily changing quarterbacks again, to give a rookie some experience. But it’s not going to be now, not when the NFC West is frightening still not out of reach and not against the 49ers on “Monday Night Football.”

— No, I don’t know if the Cardinals have interest in Vince Young if he becomes available.


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Dockett active; Toler, Hyphen, Wright sit

Posted by Darren Urban on November 21, 2010 – 9:41 am

The inactives are out for the game. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is active today, which is a good sign for the defense. Cornerback Greg Toler (foot) is not. Alfonso Smith will get some work at running back as well, with LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring) and Jason Wright (concussion) both sitting out. Linebacker Clark Haggans is also inactive with the lingering groin injury.

The rest of the inactive list:

  • QB John Skelton
  • LB Cyril Obiozor
  • LB Reggie Walker
  • C Ben Claxton

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With backs ailing, Cards activate Alfonso Smith

Posted by Darren Urban on November 20, 2010 – 10:43 am

The Cardinals have activated running back Alfonso Smith to the active roster from the practice squad, no shock given that Beanie Wells is dealing with an iffy knee, Jason Wright is coming off a concussion and LaRod Stephens-Howling missed practice all week because of a bad hamstring. All three of those backs were listed as questionable, and my guess is that things didn’t get significantly better Saturday — leading to Smith’s promotion.

To make room for Smith, the Cards released wide receiver Max Komar (although my guess is this isn’t the last time we see Komar in a Cards uniform).

Smith can play some special teams and could see some significant time there, depending on what happens with the active players on game day. After the Hyphen didn’t practice all week, I find it hard to see a scenario where he plays. And Wright has been steadfast all week he doesn’t want to take any risks with his head injury. “I need this brain,” Wright said earlier in the week. I do expect Beanie to play.

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Friday before the Chiefs

Posted by Darren Urban on November 19, 2010 – 3:38 pm

Fitz says it’s impossible to understand.

He can’t escape it. Football, that is. A four-game losing streak. “You go home and turn on the TV and ‘Cardinals have lost four in a row,’ ” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “Or I go to dinner and, ‘Hey Fitz, what’s wrong with you guys?’ You guys (in the media) go to dinner and no one ever bothers you. They don’t talk football with you. From that perspective, it’s difficult.”

Wait, I do too have people ask me about the Cards in public … OK, not as much as Fitz, but still …

Anyway, you can see where he is coming from. Fitzgerald is one of the few Cardinals still around from those terrible days pre-Whiz, when losing was practically ordained from training camp. Instead of making this four-game losing streak easier to deal with, it’s made it harder.

“This is way worse than before,” Fitzgerald said. “I had never won on this level before. I have tasted the caviar now, and eating out of the garbage is not where I want to be.”

Not sure you can find caviar in Kansas City. Barbeque, yes. But the Cards want their caviar, and want it fast.

— Fitzgerald, talking about his chemistry with Derek Anderson, said he just hasn’t had the same amount of time with D.A. as hookups like Palmer-Ochocinco or Schaub-Johnson or Manning-Wayne. But he insisted it is getting better (and Fitz’s stats of late bear that out; 20 catches for 270 yards the last three games).

“That’s life in the league,” Fitz said of dealing with a new QB. “I’m going to roll with the punches. Early on in my career I played with a number of different quarterbacks. It’s part of the deal. I am going to play hard and give it everything I have for my teammates and the fans here and that’s my passion.”

So I asked if it was tough to continue to answer such questions. “I don’t understand because I give the same answers every time,” he said. “That’s not going to change.” In other words, if he was ticked (and I don’t think he is, frustrated, but not irrationally so) he isn’t going to pop off anyway.

— More proof that the offense isn’t as ragged as its been? Nine pass plays of 30 or more yards the last three games (five to Steve Breaston) after having only one in the first six games.

— I’m not saying the offense/passing offense is good. Everyone settle down. We all know it is struggling. But there are moments.

— Barring something shocking, Beanie Wells will play this weekend. I don’t think he starts. Until he shows a little something on the field, I’d think Tim Hightower will remain the starter and Beanie getting a chunk of work – you know, like it was the entire back half of 2009. Will Beanie be made the starter again at some point? Perhaps. But I don’t think it’d be a guarantee.

— If LaRod Stephens-Howling can’t go, that’s a major blow to special teams all the way around. There is a reason he’s been considered by many the MVP in the first half of the year, and it’s not just because of his kickoff returns.

— I don’t know if Greg Toler is going to be able to play with his bad foot, but Fitz sure put a shot across his teammate’s bow, good-naturedly, of course. Fitz picked up a Celtics Paul Pierce jersey and hung it on Toler’s locker. Is Toler a Pierce fan? Fitz? No and no. Turns out Fitz was jabbing Toler for his injury this week by comparing it to Pierce’s “miraculous” game in the 2009 NBA Finals (watch the video; it explains it all). I would love for that to mean Toler would be fine for Sunday. We’ll see.

— The Cards could use all hands on deck for this secondary. The Chiefs feature wide receiver Dwayne Bowe a big target (think a more-polished Mike Williams, the Seattle version) who already has nine TD catches.

— The Cards have to find a way to slow the running back tandem of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones first.

— Both Ken Whisenhunt and Todd Haley have tried to downplay it this week. But make no mistake — I think both are burning to be able to beat the other Sunday. It’s not one-on-one basketball. It’s much, much bigger.

— Whisenhunt was asked about the offensive line and its play. The first part of his answer? “It’s hard for me to sit here at 3-6 and say we’re doing anything good.”

That may be a good walk-off quote. If you want to look at the glass half-full (three-quarters full?), you figure that while it was easy to, beforehand, count the Seattle home game as a win, the Kansas City game looked like a loss a couple weeks ago, so if the Cards go in and find that long-lost win, then they are right where they were expected to be and….

Ah, never mind. Talk to you in K.C.

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Lots of questionable

Posted by Darren Urban on November 19, 2010 – 12:55 pm

Eight Cardinals are questionable for Sunday, so I suppose the good news is that no one is doubtful or out — although LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring) did not practice yet again Friday. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Hyphen will be checked again tomorrow, and for instance, if he can only return kickoffs, the Cards will consider that.

Seven others (the rest of the questionable list) were officially limited: DT Darnell Dockett (shoulder), LB Clark Haggans (groin), S Kerry Rhodes (hand/back), CB Greg Toler (foot), LB Reggie Walker (just added Friday with a hamstring), RB Beanie Wells (knee) and RB Jason Wright (concussion). Whisenhunt said Wells “looked like his old self” and sounded somewhat optimistic in his tone when talking about Dockett, although Dockett has to be cleared with a strength test on game day to allow him to go.

For the full injury report, look here.

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