The bye week is always good – I know I appreciate it, so I can only imagine the players’ delight – but it is tough when you go two weeks between games. The storylines dry up a bit, especially this deep in the season, when there isn’t actual action from which to play off.
At this point, maybe it’s helps to look at it simply. Coach Ken Whisenhunt and the players were asked many times different ways about a midseason/bye assessment the past couple weeks. One Whisenhunt answer summed it up best.
“What is there to say besides it’s not good enough?” he said.
True. The 4-0 start is well in the rear view mirror. I don’t think anyone can argue that the Cardinals winning Sunday in Atlanta would be an upset, but in the NFL, it wouldn’t be some kind of stunning shock either. Everything changes if the Cards were to win. But to have that chance, the Cardinals can’t drop passes, can’t miss tackles, can’t get off to slow starts on offense or defense. They have to be good enough.
— The Cardinals have not, as noted, been tackling very well. It hasn’t been a season-long problem, but it’s been a problem for late. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton wasn’t concerned it will continue to be a problem.
“One of our coaches said today that in practice this week, it reminded us how they practiced for New England,” Horton said. “Very focused, very alert, very sharp. I don’t think tackling will be an issue. They are ready for this game.”
— Whisenhunt was asked if he had even been on a team that started two rookie tackles. “Nope,” Whiz said, allowing himself a chuckle. “I think I would remember that. We have been through some tough situations with the line during my time in the NFL. I don’t think I’ve ever started two rookie tackles.”
Nate Potter and Bobby Massie are a first Sunday.
— Here was quarterback John Skelton’s assessment of Potter’s first playing time in Green Bay. “He had the jitters a little bit, but the first play we asked him to block Clay Matthews and he did a good job,” Skelton said. Skelton just happened to hit Andre Roberts on a 40-yard bomb that play. It’s going to be a learning curve for Potter, but it’s definitely will be interesting to watch.
— I know the Falcons are calling wide receiver Julio Jones a game-day decision, but a sprained ankle is tough for a wide receiver, and from what I have always seen, any guy who doesn’t practice all week tends to be not much of a factor on Sunday even if the player does play.
— Calais Campbell could play Sunday, I suppose, but I don’t expect it. It’s like Darnell Dockett being banged up earlier in the year – you’d rather have a player miss one game rather than risk a longer-term problem. If Campbell sits, it looks like David Carter will get a shot at a lot of playing time. It’s easy to forget how well Carter played at times as a rookie. He’s definitely a player the Cards can develop and if he can play both end and tackle, even better.
— I know a lot of people keep asking. I don’t know what to expect from tight end Todd Heap. He was limited all week and questionable. I’d guess he’s one of the ones that will work out before the game, and the Cards will go from there. I have zero idea if this is the week he plays.
— Ralphie is an Arizona Cardinals’ fan. Who knew?
— This will be the first start for Quentin Groves at linebacker, following the season-ending injury to O’Brien Schofield. That shouldn’t be a huge deal; Groves, after all, has been a starter in Oakland and Jacksonville. But it also means the Cards’ depth behind Groves and Sam Acho falls on a pair of first-year Cards: Jamaal Westerman and undrafted rookie Zack Nash. Westerman has experience, but he was also the one left inactive on game in favor of Nash, which could say something about both of them. If Acho or Groves get nicked, how the backups respond will be important.
“They don’t have much choice.” Whisenhunt said. “This league, you have to play and be successful when you aren’t getting all the (practice) reps.”
— A quick heads-up: “Season In Focus” will air Saturday morning at 7 a.m. on ABC-15. There will be a recap of the first half of the season, a “Wired” segment with linebacker Daryl Washington and a “Zoom” episode featuring a Cardinals cheerleader who happens to be a veteran of the war in Iraq. Then on “Flightplan” – airing Saturday at midnight on NBC Ch. 12 right after “Saturday Night Live,” Whisenhunt and Ron Wolfley break down video of the Roberts’ bomb and Potter’s overall work in his first game.
The second half of the season is upon us.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Calais Campbell, Falcons, Jamaal Westerman, Ken Whisenhunt, Nate Potter, Quentin Groves, Ray Horton, Todd Heap, Zack Nash
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Earlier Monday, Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he didn’t know the status of linebacker O’Brien Schofield’s ankle injury and was waiting for an MRI. The news apparently wasn’t good. Schofield tweeted tonight his season was over.
“I’m out for the season. I’m sorry Cardinal fans. But I will be back and stronger then ever. This yr was just a preview of (what) is to Come,” was Schofield’s Twitter message.
UPDATE: Whisenhunt confirmed Schofield’s season-ending injury Tuesday.
Schofield got hurt after getting twisted up with teammate Darnell Dockett as the two were going after a sack of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (pictured below). Rodgers escaped, and now the freak play has sidelined Schofield.
It’s a blow to the Cardinals’ defense after they finally got Schofield in the starting lineup this season. Quentin Groves is the logical player to replace Schofield in the starting lineup. The Cardinals also have Jamaal Westerman and rookie Zack Nash, but you’d figure they will use the bye week to add someone to the roster. It’s also a tough blow for Schofield, who’s been dealing with injuries since he came into the league, most notably the ACL injury he suffered right before he was drafted in 2010. Schofield has worked hard to make himself into a viable starter in the league. While it’s uncertain exactly what happened to his ankle that would end his season, it sounds like it will be another long road to recovery for Schofield.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, O'Brien Schofield, Quentin Groves, Zack Nash
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The Cardinals have trimmed their roster to the requisite 75 by cutting 12 players today, in addition to waiving injured fullback Jared Crank (neck) and running back Thomas Clayton (knee) and putting on injured reserve tackle Levi Brown, which officially ends Brown’s season. The Cards had until Monday to make the moves. The cut to 53 players must come a week from today, the day after the Cards close out the preseason with a game against Denver.
The 12 released were:
— DE Landon Cohen
— WR Gino Crump
— S Eddie Elder
— WR Tre Gray
— CB Marshay Green
— WR Jaymar Johnson
— FB Reagan Maui’a
— LB Marcus McGraw
— LB Zack Nash
— CB James Nixon
— K/P Ricky Schmitt
— LB Paul Vassallo
On a side note, defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin was fined by the NFL $21,000 for hitting a defenseless player in the head/neck area, in this case, Raiders quarterback Matt Leinart. It’s a hefty sum for a guy who has yet to collect anything more than a practice squad paycheck in the league. (Kicker and NFLPA player rep Jay Feely informs us the fine is not collected unless Lumpkin makes a roster.)
Tags: cuts, Eddie Elder, Gino Crump, James Nixon, Jared Crank, Jaymar Johnson, Landon Cohen, Levi Brown, Marcus McGraw, Marshay Green, Paul Vassallo, Reagan Maui'a, Ricky Lumpkin, Ricky Schmitt, Thomas Clayton, Tre Gray, Zack Nash
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