So here it is, the day before the game in which Ken Whisenhunt promised to play his starters until they got it right. That was the message at the beginning of the week, and then Whisenhunt and his staff worked the Cards pretty hard over the next few days in Flagstaff.
It seems to me – and really, what do I know? – it worked.
“I don’t quite understand why he was trying to take us out of the preseason earlier anyway,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “I guess it’s (being) cautious, but we’re not out there to protect guys. We’re out there to get better, to make strides. For him to have to come and say that to us is disappointing, and we have to take care of our Coach because he takes care of us. I can guarantee that will not be the same Cardinals’ team (Friday night) that you all saw the last two weeks.”
The stars line up well for the Cards. It’s their first home game. There is desperation by a defense that has been disappointing and a starting quarterback fighting to stay in the hunt to be a starter. There is a clear edge in the air from a coaching staff that wants more, and an opponent who just played Monday night.
We’ll see if the attention to detail Adrian Wilson was searching for shows up.
— Assuming Ryan Williams finally plays, and all indications are that he will, Friday marks 364 days since he ruptured his patella tendon in Green Bay. It will also be his first game at University of Phoenix Stadium, since the Cards began with a pair of road preseason games last year.
— It’s been said many times, but this game will be important to Kevin Kolb. A poor showing doesn’t necessarily eliminate him from being a starter – at least, Whisenhunt hasn’t said that – but it’s hard to think, with time running out, that this is crucial. I’ve already been asked a bunch of times if the Cards will trade for another QB if Kolb doesn’t play well, or if they will cut him. I say the same I have been: I expect whoever isn’t starting to be the backup this season. But never say never.
(I will say that I can’t see trading for the contract of Tavaris Jackson, for instance, at $4M when he’s not necessarily an improvement. Same with Colt McCoy. How do they make you better? Especially when they’ll be coming in cold? Makes no sense to me.)
— Speaking of the QB competition, offensive coordinator Mike Miller said nothing is different even though the Cards haven’t settled on a starter. To the contrary, the changes come after a starter is named.
“I don’t change anything about how we install or operate day-to-day,” Miller said. “Once a decision is made, and as any team does at any position, there are strengths and weaknesses with each guy. So you try to cater your game plan to meet that player’s talent. What does he do best? It’s the old saying: Who are your best 11, and what do they do best?”
— Just because this game feels more important to Kolb, it doesn’t mean that John Skelton, whenever he comes in, should be ignored. He needs to play well too. Everyone is watching.
— While watching quarterbacks, how can you not look forward to seeing how Matt Leinart does for the Raiders? He’s backing up Carson Palmer these days and this will be his first visit back to UoP since being cut by the Cards. Against Dallas, he was 11-for-16 for 98 yards, fairly typical numbers – high completion rate for not a ton of yards.
— We don’t know exactly how Michael Floyd’s year will go yet, but at least he’s not tossing his cookies because of nerves. Then again, that’s been normal for him. “I’m surprised because usually I get sick and feel a little nauseated,” Floyd said. “But no. I feel comfortable and as long as I keep practicing and getting these plays down, I can have that comfort and be faster.”
— A tip of the cap to the long and good life of my grandfather, Raymond Urban, who passed away Wednesday afternoon. He had just turned 101 July 30.
— Interesting that DC Ray Horton mentioned to Kent Somers no cornerback has really challenged William Gay for the starting spot opposite Patrick Peterson. I didn’t get the impression that was because Gay has been flawless either. It’s one of the reasons this game means a lot to the defense too – where is that unit with the 2011 closing kick?
— Well, maybe they were around in practice this week. “There’s been no b.s.ing around,” Dockett said. “It’s been about business.”
Yeah, that’s what this Oakland game feels like. It definitely doesn’t feel like an exhibition. Not from this side.
Tags: Colt McCoy, Darnell Dockett, Kevin Kolb, Matt Leinart, Michael Floyd, Mike Miller, Raiders, Ray Horton, Raymond Urban, Ryan Williams, Tavaris Jackson, William Gay
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Coach Ken Whisenhunt made a joke earlier this week about the Cards taking “the best player available that fits the our need.” This year, he wasn’t kidding. Three picks, three players that just so happened to fit major holes, capped by the slot receiver/punt returner Andre Roberts in the third round. So after that (and the choice of LB Daryl Washington in the second round), some thoughts:
— There are clearly some of you out there less than thrilled about the Roberts pick. Know this — the Cards have been looking for a punt returning alternative for Steve Breaston for a while. Not because Breaston isn’t good, but because he has become that valuable as a receiver. Before Roberts, there wasn’t anyone on the roster that was a true candidate. The Cards also needed speed at receiver. Roberts has some of that as a former track guy. They needed a slot guy. Roberts does that. They needed another candidate as fourth receiver, since the leading in-house candidates were unknown quantities in Ed Gant and Onrea Jones.
Plus, Whisenhunt likes the idea of a guy from the Citadel. Don’t get him wrong. Roberts is here because of what he does on the field. But add that to surviving and thriving at a military school, well, Whiz likes that. His father attended the school and he knows what it is about (Whiz took a visit there before going to Georgia Tech).
— The last NFL player drafted from the Citadel? In 2005, the Redskins spent a seventh rounder on a fullback named Nehemiah Broughton — who just happens to be Roberts’ new teammate on the Cards. Of the 12 Citadel players drafted in history, six have been Cards at one point.
— The Cards have been big on the small schools. Roberts, TE Ben Patrick (Delaware), T Brandon Keith (Northern Iowa), RB Tim Hightower (Richmond), CB Greg Toler (St. Pauls) and DRC (Tennessee State) have all been taken since Whiz came aboard. “Because we have had success with those guys,” Whisenhunt said, “we may be a little less inclined to be scared of that.”
— I think the move to get Washington was important. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis loves the idea of Washington coming in to (eventually) fill Karlos Dansby’s shoes. Davis told a story of putting on a tape of a Clemson-TCU game, when running back C.J. Spiller (who went ninth in the draft to Buffalo) caught a swing pass and the only thing in the flat to stop Spiller was Washington. And there was 10 yards in between the two. Nevertheless, Washington “gets him down easily,” Davis said.
“It’s one play,” Davis siad. “But the athleticism … if you start with speed and athleticism, which you can’t teach. T hen talk to him, he’s a classy young man and football means a lot to him. I talked for maybe two hours. I know he’s sharp enough to learn the NFL system.”
— By the way, the Cards have zero concerns about Washington’s size and/or weight. And the idea is, if Dan Williams and the rest of the defensive line succeeds as planned, Washington will have the space to use his skills to make plays.
— With three picks left, I expect serious consideration on two of them to go to offensive line and defensive back. But in terms of the offensive line, that’s why they signed Rex Hadnot and why they have groomed Keith. That’s why the re-signed Jeremy Bridges. Do they want to keep stockpiling? Yes. But just because some pundits (and some fans) see offensive line as this major need doesn’t mean the Cards do as well.
— If the drop of Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy proves anything, it’s how weak this QB class is considered. Because of that, I won’t be surprised to see the Cards get a rookie QB, but after the draft as an undrafted free agent.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Ben Patrick, Bill Davis, Brandon Keith, C.J. Spiller, Colt McCoy, Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, draft, DRC, Ed Gant, Greg Toler, Jeremy Bridges, Jimmy Clausen, Ken Whisenhunt, Nehemiah Broughton, Onrea Jones, Rex Hadnot, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower
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