It’s been all over social media today, but the Cardinals have made it back on to a Sports Illustrated (regional) cover this week by highlighting Smokey Brown’s fantastic touchdown catch against the Rams in a story titled — fittingly, “Next Man Up.”
But the Cardinals have been there before in recent times. Larry Fitzgerald was the poster boy for SI as the NFL players were set to come back from the lockout in 2011, with a shot of him sitting in a locker room all serious-like. And then there were the back-to-back-to-back covers during the 2008 season playoff run, with Fitz and Kurt Warner. (Yes, technically, DBs DRC, Aaron Francisco and Ralph Brown had a cameo on the SI cover the next week, but surprisingly I don’t have a picture of the Santonio Holmes cover).
And please, no one talk about jinxes to me. I don’t buy into them. Never have. Just enjoy the picture.
Tags: John Brown, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Sports Illustrated
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Little bit warmer today but the nasty temperatures have stayed away so far (it is supposed to be 98 tomorrow, so …). Cornerback Greg Toler, now working with the first unit after playing behind Michael Adams in minicamp, made a nice play to break up one pass during some skeleton 11-on-11 work, and there were a couple of impressive cut-and-bounce-upfield runs by Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower.
Other bits and pieces:
— Remember the old punishment thought where if one guy doesn’t get it, the whole unit gets dinged? It looked like that happened to the defensive backs today, when DB coach Donnie Henderson got his guys to do pushups after someone (or someones, didn’t see who) didn’t get the drill just right.
— Speaking of DBs, we will have a live chat with new safety Kerry Rhodes sometime next week. More details to come.
— Coach Ken Whisenhunt on the importance of this year for fourth-year nose tackle Gabe Watson, especially with No. 1 pick Dan Williams here: “There’s no question it intensifies the competition. He understands where he has to be. So it is a critical year for him. Anytime you’re facing a numbers situation like we are with the numbers at that position, it forces you to work harder. That’s why you want it at every position.”
— For those yearning for some national coverage, Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter has been out for the last couple of days talking to many players. Expect something on SI.com as early as tomorrow, and an upcoming (smaller) piece for the magazine.
— Finally, punter Ben Graham got a hometown honor today when the deputy mayor of the Australian city of Geelong, Bruce Harwood, named Graham as an “Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary” for the city. There’s no question Graham’s fame in the NFL has brought attention to Australia and Geelong, and Graham’s only the third person to be so honored. So he’s got that going for him.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Ben Graham, Dan Williams, Donnie Henderson, Gabe Watson, Greg Toler, Michael Adams, Sports Illustrated, Tim Hightower
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I’ve never been a big fan of NFL power rankings. Like any other pro sport rankings — or even the NCAA hoops rankings — they prove meaningless because of the playoffs (although at least the NCAA basketball rankings can influence seedings for said playoffs). But there is little question rankings can be a jumping-off point to debate. So SI’s Peter King decided to put out some May rankings, and has the Cardinals down at No. 22 and out of the playoffs.
His blurb on the Cards: “Let’s just say everything I hear about Matt Leinart is lukewarm. I don’t get a confident feel that he’ll be a good or long-range replacement for Kurt Warner, and without a strong passing game, the Cards can’t score enough to help an OK defense with some holes. Now, if Joey Porter can turn back the clock six years …”
Here’s the interesting part: King has the Seahawks 11th in his rankings, and tops in the division. He only has the 49ers at No. 19 — one spot above his “Wait ’til next year” group — so he doesn’t have strong feelings with San Francisco. He is calling the Seahawks his choice for “Turnaround team of the year.”
Admittedly, King had the Saints at 24th at this time last year and the Bears going to the Super Bowl, so take it with a grain of salt. Clearly, there are a lot of unknowns in the NFC West. Unknowns that can be discussed.
Tags: 49ers, Bears, NFC West, rankings, Saints, Seahawks, Sports Illustrated
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Just a few tidbits here on the Cards’ extra day off:
— Sports Illustrated is putting together best-of-the-decade lists, and the Cardinals are all over them. To begin with, the Cardinals were in the decade’s best game (the most recent Super Bowl — I know, ouch), they were part of one of the magazine’s best NFL covers (Pat Tillman), and had one of the decade’s best players (Sean Morey). They also had one of the decade’s top 20 individual performances in Larry Fitzgerald’s 2009 playoff run (although they have ties with not one but two others).
— The Cardinals, given their recent success, have done big TV numbers this season locally. But with the Vikings coming in and the Cards getting another appearance on “Sunday Night Football,” their TV numbers were huge last weekend. In the Valley, the Cards got a 31.9 rating and 46 share, reaching 598,000 homes. Those stats set a local market record for a Cards’ regular-season game. The game was also the most-watched TV show in the nation last week. It averaged 20.9 million viewers, six million more than the No. 2 show, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”
— The Big Red Rage is set for Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s Sports Grill. Bertrand Berry’s guest this week is Karlos Dansby. As usual, if you can’t make it, it will air on Sports 620 KTAR.
Tags: Big Red Rage, Larry Fitzgerald, Pat Tillman, Sean Morey, Sports Illustrated, Sunday Night Football, Vikings
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In the latest Sports Illustrated players poll — in questioning conducted just after the regular season started this year — Larry Fitzgerald was named the league’s most dangerous receiver, beating out the Patriots’ Randy Moss by a healthy margin. And Anquan Boldin was seventh in the balloting, in which you couldn’t vote for a teammate. And to think, Fitz’s big plays are down this year. If the Cards’ passing game evolves to where it was a season ago and the explosive running of Beanie Wells is added in and the Cards’ defense continues playing at its already high level …
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Beanie Wells, Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss, Sports Illustrated
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