Friday before the Chargers

Posted by Darren Urban on October 1, 2010 – 4:50 pm

I enjoy San Diego. I have been there many times, and had some good family vacations there. Given that the freaking temperature here in the Valley continues to boggle us at around 105 degrees now that we’ve reached October, 36 hours in San Diego sounds good.

Football-wise, it’s definitely an interesting trip to say the least. The Chargers are beat up, missing two key players because of contract squabbles, and apparently can’t tackle on special teams. They are 1-2, and are turnover machines – and still are favored by more than a touchdown. I suppose that says a little about where the Cardinals are right now, beat up themselves at wide receiver and still looking for offensive consistency and a true defensive identity.

I will say this: If the Cards emerge victorious this weekend – regardless of how it happens – this team will have earned its 3-1 record.

As for the details on this Friday afternoon …

I’ve mentioned this before but the Cardinals need a big effort on defense. They just do. Partly it’s because the Chargers have turned the ball over nine times in three games. Partly it’s because the Cards just don’t know what will happen offensively. Those turnovers are key, though (Duh, right?) The Chargers are ranked tops in the NFL in offense, which is based on yards, and the Cards know they haven’t been stellar in that regard.

“We have been giving up a lot more yards than we should,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We know if we don’t play our game, they can expose us.”

Said safety Kerry Rhodes, “They are number one for a reason. They get a lot of big chunks. We give up the big one, we’re going to be in trouble.”

— On the other side of the ball, Derek Anderson will be tested. The passing game has been hot and cold even with Steve Breaston in the game and now Breaston isn’t. I like the potential of Stephen Williams and even Max Komar, but the question is whether potential helps enough right now.

— So then you think about Larry Fitzgerald and getting him the ball – again. Is he a decoy (not on purpose, but …)? Coach Ken Whisenhunt knows the Chargers may use even more resources to throw at Fitz. But, Whiz noted, “if you’re going to compromise your scheme to take away a certain player, it may open up certain areas and you can exploit it.”

— Fitzgerald expressed his concern in a Fitz-like way this week, talking about just wanting to double his catches from last week’s two, etc. Clearly, he and Anderson have to hook up on openings more often. Whisenhunt even mentioned missing on the big plays when they presented themselves last week, and it seems like there have been a couple each game in which Fitz could have broken loose and the connection just wasn’t made.

Fitz talked about getting on the same page, still preaching patience. Most dynamic duos have had a couple of years. He and Anderson have had three games. “Reggie Wayne and Peyton, Moss and Brady, they know each other, all their quirky moves,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s what me and Derek need to do.”

Fitz said it felt like it was working better in Atlanta. Last week, not as much. “Hopefully this is the week it comes together,” he said.

— XTRA’s Mike Jurecki is reporting rookie nose tackle Dan Williams didn’t make weight this week so he won’t play in San Diego. If so, it’s a lot easier to make such a call with veteran Gabe Watson – who has been a healthy scratch the first three games – champing at the bit to finally play. (Bryan Robinson is the starter, so we’re talking about a backup anyway). It’s a big moment for Watson, who you know doesn’t want to be one and done. And it’s an wake-up call for Williams, who was regarded as a nose tackle who wouldn’t have to fight such things as much as guys like Watson and Alan Branch have the past few years.

— The game in San Diego will be blacked out locally because, for a second time in two home games, the Chargers didn’t sell out. It’s been an issue there, although quarterback Philip Rivers insisted it doesn’t affect the home-field advantage.

“We were 7,000 tickets or so short in the home opener, but you sure couldn’t tell,” Rivers said. “It was loud. … I don’t think that’s something us players get caught up into.”

— Another thing the Chargers haven’t had affect them too much – the missing stars, tackle Marcus McNeill and receiver Vincent Jackson. Rivers said everyone knew both would not show up, so there was no shock value. “We were able to have a whole offseason, a whole training camp a whole preseason knowing we weren’t going to have those guys,” he said. “It really hasn’t been a distraction.”

— Which special teams unit “wins” Sunday? Do the Chargers make up for their errors last week in giving up two TD kickoff returns? Do the Cards repeat The Hyphen’s exploits? Or at least cut down on two crucial punt return turnovers? “The toll it took on our defense, at the time, our defense was on a roll,” Whisenhunt said of the backbreaking notion of bad special teams plays. “I’m sure it’s a little the same thing with San Diego.”

— Finally, it stinks that Beanie Wells got hit with the $5,000 facemask fine from last week. But judging by this pic (by freelance photog Bruce Yeung, who had been reading my blog) it’s kind of tough to argue.

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A sellout (surprise!) for the Vikings

Posted by Darren Urban on December 3, 2009 – 2:30 pm

The game against the Vikings — the one to be nationally televised on “Sunday Night Football” against one of the hottest teams in the NFL with stars like Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson — has sold out. I know, a surprise, right? There was never going to be a need for an extension with this one, which makes it an even 40 games played at University of Phoenix Stadium — all of which have been sellouts. This time, there aren’t even any scattered seats or returned seats from the Vikings left to track down. There’s no question it’ll be crazy at UoP Sunday night.

Which leads us to (one of) Darnell Dockett’s thoughts on the subject, via his Twitter account:

“Now to all the loyal die hard cardinal fans who ride or die and yell and scream till the clock says OO:OO, let’s Get ready to RAISE RED SEA”

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Rams having trouble selling out

Posted by Darren Urban on November 19, 2009 – 4:41 pm

The Rams got an extension Thursday of the 24-hour variety for their blackout possibility. There are still more than 4,000 tickets remaining, a hefty amount this close to the deadline (When the Cards have asked for extensions, the most I can remember them having left is 2,000). I am a little surprised especially since QB Kurt Warner has such a huge following there. I would also guess, with the Rams 1-8 this season, there will be a decent amount of Cards/Warner fans cheering the team on despite being on the road.

Interestingly, of the Cards’ three home games left, it would figure the Dec. 27 Rams date will be the one that could become a sellout issue, given the Rams’ record and the game being so close to Christmas. The other two home games are against the Vikings and Packers and both should easily sell out (if they haven’t already).

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Blackout deadline extended

Posted by Darren Urban on October 29, 2009 – 1:52 pm

The Cardinals, with about 1,000 tickets remaining, have received a extension to the blackout deadline for Sunday’s game. That means they have until 2:15 p.m. tomorrow to sell the game out and still have it televised locally.

That was the biggest news from practice. Tight end Stephen Spach (ankle) and defensive end Kenny Iwebema (knee) each returned to limited work in the only change to the injury report. Safety Antrel Rolle, dealing with a combination of a sprained arch and Plantar fasciitis, sat out for a second straight day. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie practiced full again.

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Tickets and other odds/ends

Posted by Darren Urban on October 29, 2009 – 9:35 am

I’ve had a few questions about the ticket situation and a possible blackout. There are approximately 1,500 tickets remaining for Sunday’s game against Carolina. The blackout deadline is 2:15 p.m. today, but if the Cards are close — and they already are — they can always ask for a 24-hour extension. My gut is still that the game sells out, and if you’re not sure if you want to go, tickets are there, so go get some.

Some other stuff:

— The Big Red Rage is tonight, and Bertrand Berry’s guest is defensive lineman Alan Branch, who notched the first two sacks of his career on Sunday night. As usual, it’s at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s Sports Grill at Chandler Fashion Center. If you can’t make it, it airs live on Sports 620 KTAR.

— Kurt Warner’s First Things First foundation is spearheading another athletic ball drive for U.S. troops overseas. The troops not only have something to do on their downtime, but they give out the athletic equipment as a form of friendly communication to the locals where they are serving. Fans can bring new or gently-used sports equipment to the game against the Panthers Sunday or other participating outlets. More info — including drop-off points — can be found on The ball drive runs through Nov. 8.

Pro Bowl balloting has begun, so anyone interested can vote for their favorite players, which hopefully include many Cardinals.


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Texans game sells out; no blackout

Posted by Darren Urban on October 9, 2009 – 1:00 pm

The Cardinals officially sold out Sunday’s game by today’s deadline, so the game will indeed be televised locally on CBS (Ch. 5). The result means the Cardinals keep alive their streak of sellouts since the opening of University of Phoenix Stadium, which now totals 37 straight games including preseason and postseason dates.

There are still some premium tickets available, however, so anyone interested can call 800-745-3000 to buy them and see the crucial game which includes the subplot of two of the best receivers in the game: Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson.

As for practice today, I have yet to see the official injury designations for the weekend, but coach Ken Whisenhunt said he expects to have all 53 players available Sunday to craft his 45-man active list. That’s a first for 2009.

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Cards get sellout, avoid blackout — UPDATED

Posted by Darren Urban on September 11, 2009 – 1:00 pm

It’s official: The Cardinals have sold out Sunday’s home opener against the 49ers to beat the (extended) deadline and now the local TV blackout will be lifted. The game will be aired on Fox 10 in the Valley.

Everyone can breathe easier now.

UPDATE: There are still a limited number of tickets still available for those who want in the building to see live not only the Cards’ first game but also the NFC Championship banner ceremony. You can get them via Ticketmaster by phone (800) 745–3000 or on-line at, or at the Stadium box office.

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Wondering about a blackout — UPDATED

Posted by Darren Urban on September 10, 2009 – 9:10 am

By mid-afternoon, we will know if the Cardinals will have sold out the home opener Sunday against the 49ers, preventing a local TV blackout. There are an estimated 2,000 tickets left (probably less than that by now), and there is always a chance, if the team gets close, the NFL will extend the blackout deadline 24 hours to give the team the chance at that sellout. UPDATE: The blackout deadline has been extended to Friday.

Blackouts, given the economy, will be an issue in the NFL this season. Jacksonville has already said they expect every one of their games to be blacked out locally and the Chargers are another team that has been up front in talking about probably blackouts. The NFL has steadfastly maintained it will not change its blackout rules, although it did announce today the ability to see the game on a delayed basis — for free  — on

From the league’s release: The league’s new NFL Game Rewind package on will make all games available on an on-demand, subscription basis throughout the 2009 regular and postseason. However, games blacked out locally for failing to sell out 72 hours in advance will be available on at no cost in the affected home markets. These free “re-broadcasts” locally of blacked-out games will be available at beginning at midnight on the day of the game and remain available for 72 hours (except during ESPN Monday Night Football telecasts). “We understand that the economy is limiting some families and corporations from buying as many game tickets as they had previously,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “These free re-broadcasts on will allow our fans that can’t get to a blacked-out game an opportunity to see the entire game.”

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