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Friday before the Lions

Posted by Darren Urban on December 14, 2012 – 3:59 pm

Sunday, the Cardinals have a chance to fully wipe away last weekend’s loss in Seattle. But that’s all it was, a loss, and given the tragic events in Connecticut today, it’s difficult to get worked up over it as any more than that. The Lions come to town also as a 4-9 team, and this is one – if the Cardinals are going to get one – to get. Ryan Lindley will be back at QB, and if he can play more like the guy in the first 30 minutes of his lone start at University of Phoenix Stadium and not the last 30 minutes, the Cards should have a chance. I definitely don’t see the defense melting down again.

– It’s amazing, and I know it’s because of the quarterback situation, but there has been very little discussion about the Cards’ offensive line in recent weeks. The unit is far from perfect, but rookie tackles Bobby Massie and Nate Potter have been doing well enough. Coach Ken Whisenhunt wouldn’t disclose who the new starting center will be Sunday – “I think we need every little element of surprise that we can get. We can certainly use it,” Whisenunt said – but we’ll see if that group can hold up.

– As for needing a new center, “there’s continuity with the quarterback and the snaps and that’s something you can’t always simulate or get in practice,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve struggled with that a little bit the last couple of games with adjusting to (now injured) Rich (Ohrnberger). Then just when he starts to get comfortable and you feel good about that, he goes out.”

– The Lions have a good defensive line, although with DT Nick Fairley doubtful and unlikely to play, the Cardinals catch the break. They still have ends Cliff Avril and nearing-the-end Kyle Vanden Bosch, the one-time Cardinal. They have defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who can be dominant at times. It will be a good test for the Cards’ line.

– On the flip side, the Lions’ secondary isn’t stellar. If Larry Fitzgerald is going to be anything more than a leader for this team and actually contribute to the offense on the field, Lindley hopefully can make that happen this week.

– Speaking of Fitz, I’m not sure acting is in his future.

– He turned 91 today, so former Cardinals star back Charley Trippi can’t help on the field, but he will be at UoP Sunday so the team can celebrate his career and his place in the Ring of Honor. If you don’t know about Trippi, check out Josh Weinfuss’ great story.

– FYI, the security screening locations will be opening early (10:45 a.m.) for both the Detroit and Chicago games, with portable food and beverage stands open on the plaza for those that get there early. Actual stadium access for non-premium seat holders remains the same (90 minutes before kickoff).

– There is a toy drive at the game. Bring unwrapped toys and donations to any stadium entrance to help needy children at this time of year.

– Speaking of good stories, all the state high school championship football teams will be honored Sunday, including Queen Creek High School. If you haven’t heard, the Queen Creek team befriended a very special girl this season, and she too will be at the festivities. Check out the story – although it might get a little dusty wherever you are.

– Because people want to know, here is an early list of offensive free agents-to-be. Chew on that if you’d like.

– Finally, I just want to send thoughts and prayers to those affected in the Connecticut shootings. It’s been tough making sense of writing about football today given what happened, especially when I think of my own kids and my wife – who is a teacher – and worrying about what could happen to them.

Just remember there are bigger things when we sit here and talk about football losses or bad play or whether someone should be fired. I’m not saying you can’t say that. This is a site about the Cardinals and that’s what we all talk about. I’m just asking to be civil when talking about it, when addressing others, when criticizing players, coaches or management. We are all just people — fans, me, guys on the team — trying to get along here. The vitriol isn’t necessary to get the point across. If it’s frustrating you that much, imagine what some back East are going through this weekend.

That’s it. I’m climbing off the soapbox. On to Sunday.

BeforeLionBlogUSE


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The timeline of rehab

Posted by Darren Urban on February 21, 2012 – 2:47 pm

This time of year, strolling through the locker room means mostly a snapshot of guys rehabbing from injury, and — as I had a chance to talk last week to nose tackle Dan Williams about his broken arm — I thought about what that means today compared to when I first started covering the team more than a decade ago. Obviously, a broken arm will heal long before training camp, and it shouldn’t impact Williams in 2012. Same with the arthoscopic knee work done on running back Beanie Wells, who was downstairs today.

The return from more serious injuries, however, seems to have changed, at least a little. That crossed my mind recently when I was mentioning how the Cardinals let Kyle Vanden Bosch leave via free agency. Back in April of 2005, Vanden Bosch’s exit to sign a one-year contract with Tennessee merited just a sentence after Vanden Bosch had suffered two ACL tears in his first three seasons and then had just 15 tackles in 16 games in 2004 as a backup. Vanden Bosch later became a Pro Bowler as a Titan — starring in 2005, in fact — as his knee finally returned to health, but at the time, no one could have guessed that. Contrast that to linebacker O’Brien Schofield, who ripped up his knee in mid-January of 2010 before he was drafted and yet was back on the field by October flashing some of the skills that had impressed so many before his injury.

The Cardinals hope, for instance, running back Ryan Williams (torn patella tendon) and cornerback Greg Toler (ACL tear) both can make significant contributions this season. They are both at the facility most days, rabidly rehabbing. Both are highly optimistic at the way things are going for them. There’s no guarantee they can make an impact — no way to know until they get on the field — but certainly, the possibility is greater than it once was. Medical advances can be a wonderful thing.


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Revisionist History: Draft Daze

Posted by Darren Urban on June 17, 2011 – 3:24 pm

The latest in a series of offseason posts looking back:

For this installment, we check out what was being said on the day some current Cards were drafted …

– Back in 2001, Adrian Wilson was kind of an afterthought on the first day of the draft. Back then, there were two days of the draft, with rounds one through three on Saturday. The Cardinals had the second pick overall, so offensive lineman Leonard Davis was the BIG story. The Cards also took defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch – who turned out to be a pretty good player, but after two blown-out knees and a coaching change sent him packing from Arizona – and cornerback Michael Stone. I wonder how A-Dub feels when he thinks how the great Michael Stone has a better draft pedigree than him.

Wilson was a surprise pick in some ways, because the Cards needed defensive line help more. He was raw. The Cards even briefly considered using him at cornerback at the time, believe it or not. I love the jump headline – “Could be a keeper for the Cardinals.” Uh, yeah.

– There was no question that first day of the 2004 draft turned out awesome – Larry Fitzgerald, Karlos Dansby, Darnell Dockett – but that was what was thought at the time, too. While Fitz was celebrated, looking at Dockett’s quotes from the day resonate. “I’m going to be the next Anquan Boldin,” Dockett said, referencing Boldin’s outplaying of his draft status. And he was “disgusted” that teams passed on him before he went as the first pick of the third round. Turns out Darnell was right.

– The Cards traded up in 2007 to get Alan Branch, although it seems that it took until the end of 2009 and 2010 for Branch to really hit his stride. Of course, the big story of 2007 was the decision to take Levi Brown fifth overall (part one and part two here), but at the time, it didn’t seem as big of a deal as hindsight has portrayed. Of course, that draft was also highlighted by the late pick of Steve Breaston. It’s funny to see I thought Breaston’s big competition to make the team was LeRon McCoy.

– Then there was 2008, when the Cards got DRC and Calais Campbell on the first day. Apparently, one kidney and a small school wasn’t going to scare off the Cards from Rodgers-Cromartie, and his speed didn’t hurt. All things considered, that’s been a good pick – although we all understand DRC’s need for a big 2011.


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