Life on the charter flight. I write this version of the Aftermath well after midnight Arizona time, sitting in the back of the plane as flight attendants Billi and Candice serve dinner and fullback Reagan Maui’a sits across from me, playing his ukulele at 30,000 feet.
But we must go on to the game. That’s what you’re here for.
— I don’t know exactly what Ken Whisenhunt was aiming for when he decided to start Derek Anderson this week over Matt Leinart, but whatever his intention, it worked. Both played well, and frankly, I don’t envy Whisenhunt’s decision going forward. Nothing was made easier Saturday night in the Chicago win, although Whiz was clearly feeling better about life than in the Tennessee game.
“I take my hat off to (the QBs),” running back Tim Hightower said. “A lot of people they can say whatever they want to about Matt, but he showed a lot. D.A., he played well, and when he had opportunities, he capitalized. But Matt came in and did his thing and he handled himself well.”
It was interesting that twice, Whisenhunt noted the quarterback choice will come down to chemistry with the team and how the QB handles things when he is in the fray – and that it won’t necessarily be about stats. Given that Leinart has completed 19-of-23 preseason passes and not turned it over, Whiz’s comments seem to pump the brakes on the idea Leinart could be the favorite. One of the issues swirling around Leinart for a while has been whether he is able to inspire the team.
“I don’t know what the decision will be made on,” Leinart said, smiling. “I feel like I have a great relationship with my guys, my team for four, five years now. Like I said, I can only control what I control, and that’s playing good football and being a leader. I have a great relationship with all my teammates and I don’t think it should be based on that because I feel like I am doing a good job in that department.”
— Arguably, the guy with the biggest stake in the quarterback position is Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. His thoughts on the QB controversy/competition? Fitz told this to ace beat man Kent Somers: “I’m just a hired hand, man. I’m just a pawn on the chess board.”
Something tells me Fitz has his opinions.
— Hightower ran the ball well (62 yards on eight carries). Beanie Wells didn’t have the greatest night. He gained 14 yards on eight carries, dropped a pass and, most crucial, fumbled the ball late in the second quarter inside the Bears’ 10-yard line when it looked like the Cards were going to drive for a TD. Replays seemed to show Beanie might have been down a split-second before losing control, but it wasn’t overturned, and Whisenhunt wasn’t happy considering Beanie’s fumbling issues as a rookie.
“That is something with Beanie we have made progress with and he obviously was criticized for not paying more attention to the ball there,” Whisenhunt said.
— Deuce Lutui logged significant time with the starting offensive line at right guard, although Reggie Wells started. Given all the talk about Anderson, Greg Toler and Daryl Washington moving into the starting lineup, you wonder if Deuce is next.
— All four guys who can play nose tackle – Bryan Robinson, Gabe Watson, Alan Branch and Dan Williams – logged time there by early in the second quarter. It’s beginning to look like the Cards could very well keep them all, and seven defensive linemen overall (Campbell, Dockett, Iwebema).
— Speaking of the defensive front, they again played well and sparked the overall good defensive night (four sacks and two picks of QB Jay Cutler and Mike Martz’s latest attempt to revive the Greatest Show on Turf, except on grass).
— I’m not sure Stephen Williams has had a bad day since training camp started. Anderson played well, but he owes a little something to the rookie receiver for coming up big in traffic.
— Awesome play to score your touchdown, Steve Breaston (pictured below). Oh, don’t ever leap like that in a preseason game again. Your legs looked like they were going to snap as you went up and over the goal line.
— QB Max Hall looked sharp at the end. And I’m beginning to think Max Komar will be the second rookie receiver to stick around, if they decide to keep six receivers. All he does is make plays. (UPDATE: Oops. Forgot Andre Roberts is a rookie. He will make it too).
— Offensive linemen David Moosman and Casey Knips haven’t gotten into a game yet. That doesn’t bode well with a cut of five coming Monday. And speaking of not boding well, the fact tight end Dominique Byrd didn’t play Saturday usually isn’t a good sign either.
Wow, I wrote a lot there. Might have to take Sunday off.
Tags: Alan Branch, Andre Roberts, Beanie Wells, Bears, Bryan Robinson, Calais Campbell, Casey Knips, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, David Moosman, Derek Anderson, Deuce Lutui, Dominique Byrd, Gabe Watson, Greg Toler, Jay Cutler, Ken Whisenhunt, Kenny Iwebema, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Max Hall, Max Komar, Mike Martz, Reagan Maui'a, Reggie Wells, Stephen Williams, Tim Hightower
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As expected the Cardinals are bringing in 10 undrafted rookie free agents. Many names have already been floated out there, but here’s the official list:
- WR Juamorris Stewart (Southern)
- RB Alfonso Smith (Kentucky)
- QB Max Hall (BYU)
- T Casey Knips (South Dakota St.)
- WR Stephen Williams (Toledo)
- CB AJ Jefferson (Fresno St.)
- T Devin Tyler (Temple)
- C David Moosman (Michigan)
- WR Max Komar (Idaho)
- CB Marshay Green (Mississippi)
The Cardinals are also bringing in two guys for minicamp on a tryout basis: WR Deryn Bowser and CB Justin Miller. Miller was a second-round pick in 2005 with the Jets and also has been with the Raiders. Bowser played at Akron this past season.
The look at Miller gives perspective of what the Cardinals are searching for cornerback support, if they actually sign a veteran. They aren’t going to chase a “name” free agent because they believe Greg Toler will be the starter. They want a veteran to serve in a reserve role, and many “name” guys would be looking to start I would think — and at least get some starter money.
The same goes with G Alan Faneca. GM Rod Graves told me this morning the Cardinals will likely touch base with Faneca’s agent, but I didn’t get the sense this is something the Cards will push for. The way I see it, Faneca definitely will be looking to start and I don’t think the Cards feel that’s the best direction to go in right now. If nothing else, it may spark Deuce Lutui to finally sign his tender offer, because at this point he surprisingly hasn’t and remains away from the team as minicamp approaches.
Tags: AJ Jefferson, Alan Faneca, Alfonso Smith, Casey Knips, David Moosman, Deryn Bowser, Deuce Lutui, Devin Tyler, Greg Toler, Juamorris Stewart, Justin Miller, Marshay Green, Max Hall, Max Komar, Stephen Williams
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