Gandy’s future unclear after surgery

Posted by Darren Urban on December 21, 2009 – 11:31 am

Tackle Mike Gandy had surgery Friday for a sports hernia. Done by a specialist in Philadelphia, the surgery puts Gandy out three-to-six weeks. What that means is unknown. I asked coach Ken Whisenhunt if that meant the Cards would carry Gandy on the roster and bring him back later and Whisenhunt said “I don’t know that yet.” The Cards are down a safety since Matt Ware went on IR and are carrying two kickers because of the Neil Rackers groin injury, so they might not be able to afford to keep Gandy active.

But Whisenhunt said the injury needed to be repaired because it wasn’t getting better, and the Cards do have veteran Jeremy Bridges at left tackle. “As much as Mike has sacrificed, it’s nice to have guys step up,” Whisenhunt said.

Gandy’s future beyond the season is also up in the air. He is a free agent after the season, and after making $5 million this season, he may not be brought back unless he’s willing to play for less. It’s possible he’s played his last game in Arizona. Then again, maybe he comes back in the playoffs. Until he is put on IR, that’s still possible.


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Lions aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on December 20, 2009 – 11:14 pm

So what was Sunday, exactly?

Was it the scary way the Cards managed to come up with a win in Detroit? Was it, ultimately, the fact they won the game and turned it into the NFC West title by the end of the night (pictures from the flight home are right here)? A little of both, I suppose. The Lions, by the end, were using a third-string quarterback, a second-string running back and couldn’t get the ball to star wideout Calvin Johnson. Mistakes were made. Yet the Cards ended up with a victory. That wasn’t the team that took apart the Vikings on “Sunday Night Football” but it wasn’t the team that played in San Francisco either.

If it makes any frustrated fans out there feel better, there’s was enough concern lingering in the locker room to make sure the close call won’t go for naught.

“As a team, we have to know, being who we are, we’re going to get it every week,” wide receiver Steve Breaston said. “That is what we have to understand.”

“We’ve got to look at this film, look at the second half and look ourselves in the mirror,” safety Adrian Wilson said. “We’ve got some good team coming up so we can’t continue to shoot ourselves in the foot.”

With the one-win Rams coming in to University of Phoenix Stadium this week, everyone will be looking for domination. That may or may not happen, but maybe it’s something the Cards strive for as they gear up for what is now a guaranteed playoff berth.

— Wilson is thisclose to reaching the 20/20 club for career sacks and interceptions. He got to 19½ sacks Sunday when he got a half, splitting one with Clark Haggans. “I ain’t tripping off that,” Wilson said. “It’s a half. I’ll continue to work. Sooner or later, it’ll come around.”

— The Cardinals faced four third-and-1 plays Sunday. Beanie Wells lost three yards on the first, Kurt Warner was sacked for a loss of eight on the second, Wells was stuffed for no gain on the third. The fourth was a nine-yard swing pass to running back Tim Hightower. But the Cards obviously need to get better on converting those, and it was one of the reasons their offense had so many fits and starts.

— Wells was very, very good Sunday. I will now get a bunch of e-mails/blog questions/Tweets asking me if he will replace Hightower in the starting lineup. I doubt it, and the only reason I am not saying it definitely won’t happen is because you can never say never. But as I have said many times, I don’t think coach Ken Whisenhunt has any reason to upset that apple cart. Hightower started Sunday and Wells was on the field – making the Cards’ first rushing attempt of the game – on the Cards’ second play. We all can see what Beanie brings. Whether he starts, truthfully, is immaterial.

— In case anyone wasn’t sure, punter Ben Graham continues to have his unbelievably good season (and that’s with a sore groin right now). He averaged 50.3 yards on seven kicks Sunday, put three more inside the Detroit 20-yard line and can boast this stat: He hasn’t kicked a ball into the end zone since the Houston game, which was the fourth game of the season. That’s 62 straight punts without a touchback over 11 games. He has 32 punts inside the 20 in that span.

— Jeremy Bridges got another start at left tackle, and that may not change. Mike Gandy is struggling mightily with that pelvic injury – Larry Fitzgerald said last week Gandy’s guts were “falling out” – and I’m not sure Gandy is going to be able to get back out there. It makes the Bridges signing gigantic.

— Congrats to tight end Anthony Becht, who played in his 150th straight game Sunday.

— Quarterback Kurt Warner just seemed, I don’t know, off. There were a couple chances, especially early, where Anquan Boldin was open down the field and Warner didn’t see him or didn’t look his way. There were also a couple of near misses on interceptions on which Warner was lucky they weren’t turnovers. The fumble right before halftime – on which Warner simply wasn’t given enough time – cost the Cards three points.

Then again, Warner calmly hit Fitzgerald for a 13-yard gain to start the final drive (Oh, and don’t forget the huge 39-yard kickoff return by LaRod Stephens-Howling to set the offense up). And his final pass was the perfect five-yard screen to Boldin for a touchdown (I do love that Boldin screen in the red zone). Warner’s day was kind of a microcosm of the Cards’ day – yes, it was up and down. But in the end, it was good enough.


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Fitz officially active today

Posted by Darren Urban on December 20, 2009 – 9:30 am

As expected all week, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is active for today’s game in Detroit. There were no surprises on the list, not with the knowledge kicker Neil Rackers (groin) and tackle Mike Gandy (pelvis) were already out. The others inactive:

  • QB Brian St. Pierre
  • LB Reggie Walker
  • LB Will Davis (knee)
  • T Herman Johnson
  • TE Stephen Spach
  • WR Jerheme Urban

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Fitz ready to go; Gandy, Rackers out

Posted by Darren Urban on December 18, 2009 – 12:41 pm

Larry Fitzgerald is officially listed as questionable with his sore knee, but the receiver said “I’m feeling good and excited for (Sunday),” and he continues to leave little wiggle room that he will do anything but play against the Lions. Now, coach Ken Whisenhunt isn’t quite as concrete, so we’ll see how that works out. The two both agree Fitzgerald has been progressing daily.

Left tackle Mike Gandy will not play, Whisenhunt said, meaning Jeremy Bridges will start in his place. Kicker Neil Rackers is also out, and Whisenhunt said he was pleased with the efforts of Mike Nugent in practice, going as far to say he was surprised Nugent didn’t already have a job. Given that Nugent’s downfall with the Buccaneers was a windy day in Washington, the Cards can feel good Nugent won’t have to deal with the elements for the rest of the regular season (or the rest of Rackers’ time off, whichever is less, right?).

Linebacker Gerald Hayes (back) returned to practicing full today as well.


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Fitz better as Cards move toward Sunday

Posted by Darren Urban on December 17, 2009 – 1:46 pm

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald did more at practice Thursday and while he was still limited, he said he was feeling better than Wednesday and continues to believe he will play Sunday in Detroit. There wasn’t much change to the injury report; DE Kenny Iwebema returned to limited work with his shoulder injury, and cornerback Michael Adams (hamstring) was able to practice fully. No one else changed. T Mike Gandy (pelvis) didn’t practice and coach Ken Whisenhunt said there was no update on him. Kicker Neil Rackers (groin) sat out too, and said his tear will likely need a week or two to heal.

P.S. Don’t forget about the Big Red Rage tonight, with host Bertrand Berry bringing aboard cornerback Bryant McFadden as the guest. As usual, it’s at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler, and if you can’t make it, it’ll be on Sports 620 KTAR.


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Fitz says he’s fine

Posted by Darren Urban on December 16, 2009 – 2:18 pm

Larry Fitzgerald was limited today with his sore knee and coach Ken Whisenhunt said he will be likely limited again tomorrow as the Cards try to get their Pro Bowl receiver ready to play Sunday. But make no mistake, Fitzgerald said his bone bruise and right knee sprain shouldn’t keep him out in Detroit. He wants to play and doesn’t see why he wouldn’t. The injury is similar to what Steve Breaston suffered in the preseason but not nearly as bad. There isn’t the same amount of swelling, and it looks like Fitz is simply very lucky.

The same can’t be said for safety Matt Ware, of course. He’d be out 4-to-6 weeks with his knee injury, Whisenhunt said, and that was just too long to wait. So Ware went on injured reserve. Rookie Rashad Johnson will plug into Ware’s spot, and maybe veteran Ralph Brown.

Tackle Mike Gandy (pelvis) wasn’t at practice today, getting checked out again by a doctor. That does not bode well for the week. Obviously, Jeremy Bridges would step in for Gandy. UPDATE: Reserve defensive end Kenny Iwebema has already been ruled out for the game with a bad shoulder as well. UPDATE II: The Cards have changed Iwebema’s listing, changing him from “out” to “DNP.”


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Optimism on Fitz, Ware UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on December 15, 2009 – 11:40 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said this morning there is still no definite news on the knee injury to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, but reiterated that Fitzgerald was well enough (and cleared by doctors) last night to return to the game and there is a cautious optimism Fitz is OK. He’ll have an MRI today, although I would guess we won’t know about his status until tomorrow (unless Fitz tweets it, like he did last night when he said he was OK).

UPDATE: Fitz tweeted today “I’m sore but I’m straight.”

There is also partial good news on safety Matt Ware. Last night, the Cards thought Ware had torn knee ligaments, which would have ended his season. They don’t think now he did tear his ACL, and Whisenhunt said there was hope he wouldn’t need surgery of any kind. Ware will be reevaluated to see if he can return at some point.

The injury list doesn’t end there though. Kicker Neil Rackers is definitely having more problems with his right groin injury. He was forced to kick off shorter last night in part to protect the injury, and he was hurting afterward. Whisenhunt said if the Cards do have to get another kicker, he doesn’t have to be signed until later in the week, and I wouldn’t be shocked if indeed the Cards did need to do that for the short-term.

Left tackle Mike Gandy (pelvis) lost strength late in the game, Whiz said, and had to come out. Gandy didn’t play well, but as Whisenhunt noted, Gandy wasn’t exactly in the minority with that status last night.

Finally, asked about cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, he said DRC came up with a turf toe issue during the game, which may have affected him. Overall, Whisenhunt said DRC did a good job in coverage.

Other than that, it’s about moving forward after the 24-9 loss in San Francisco. “That was disappointing for our fans and for the people that support us,” Whisenhunt said. “It was tough enough for our football team. … But it doesn’t change the fact we know who we are and that we have played good football. If you dwell too much on it, it can affect you going forward.”

One last note: The 49ers apparently were talking afterward that they are the more physical team. Not surprisingly, Whisenhunt doesn’t agree, correctly noting the Cards are in good shape to win the division. “We’ve played essentially the same teams, you look at the Minnesota games or any of the other games, it doesn’t appear to me that that’s the case. Once again, they get to talk because they won the game.”


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49ers aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on December 15, 2009 – 3:00 am

So if the Cards were sitting there, lamenting for weeks the things they didn’t capitalize upon or messed up in that season-opening 20-16 loss to the 49ers, what are they going to do about Monday night’s whiff knowing they have to gnaw on it until next season?

Ugh. It’s the middle of the night on the charter flight home, and even with a few hours to consider what happened, it’s still difficult to wrap your head around this 24-9 loss. I’ll step to the front of the line asking for a mulligan; I never saw this coming and was very confident the Cards would end up winning the rematch with the Niners. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

In the big picture, it likely means little. Sure, it could undercut the Cards if they are trying for the No. 3 seed in the NFC but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. They likely weren’t going to have a shot at the No. 2 seed anyway, and make no mistake, the Cards are still going to win the NFC West (maybe next week, when the Cards go to Detroit and the 49ers have to play in Philly).

Still, the what-could-have-been. The 49ers will celebrate their sweep, but the Cardinals will see a team that barely beat them despite major mistakes. Said running back Beanie Wells will equal parts exasperation and disgust, “Seven turnovers and they beat us by two touchdowns. We killed ourselves.”

You’d figure a team with seven turnovers would romp, but if it wasn’t for that last Beanie fumble to set up another TD, the Cards were going to have a shot to tie it, I do believe. What would that have been like (hmmm, a team overcoming major turnovers to win on Monday night … it vaguely rings a bell).

Anyway:

— Here’s a good example of the Cards’ pain: The 49ers scored touchdowns on “drives” of eight and 16 yards, and got a field goal on a “drive” of eight yards. You can’t turn the ball over, but you really can’t turn the ball over to a mediocre offense in position to get easy touchdowns.

— Kurt Warner looked like he was baited into his first interception. On that play, the 49ers had three down linemen and then only rushed two, meaning nine men had dropped into coverage. Yet Warner threw a deep pattern to Steve Breaston soon – as if there was normal pressure on the pocket – and safety Dashon Goldson simply waited back and made an easy pick. The second interception was tough, because Warner thought Anquan Boldin was going to keep going and he instead crashed into defensive back Tarell Brown. Brown could have been flagged for illegal contact, but since he was really going after the ball, he seemed exempt.

— You have to wonder if LT Mike Gandy took a step back with his pelvis injury. He came out early like he did against Tennessee, and it did look like he was having some trouble against the Niner pass rushers. Since Gandy came out, you have to assume it was the injury that was doing him in, but I guess only the coaches know for sure.

— For a grudge match against a bitter rival on national TV, there were sure a lot of empty seats at Candlestick Park.

— If safety Matt Ware is indeed out long-term, that hurts a lot. Ware had been pretty solid on defense and allowed the Cards to do so many other things with Adrian Wilson especially. And rookie Rashad Johnson just doesn’t look ready to step into that role yet.

— DL Darnell Dockett showed some incredible athleticism, not only on the play where he tipped and then made the interception, but when he batted another pass later when Alex Smith caught it himself for a six-yard loss. Dockett showed serious hops . Must be those squats of 400-plus pounds building up his leg muscles.

— The Cards did have a clunker, and as Warner said, “unfortunately we have had  a few of these around here, and that’s the most disappointing part. You keep hoping we are over these games where we are on a big high and play great and then come back and play like we did tonight. It’s disappointing but we still have a lot in front of us.”

— We finish with a little positive then. Beanie Wells was very good, all the way up until his fumble. The Cards tried to come back to Tim Hightower last week after his fumble and it worked, but I am guessing it wasn’t a coincidence that Hightower didn’t have a carry Monday after his fumble (although Beanie was running so well, Whisenhunt may have just been sticking with the hot hand). If I am the Lions next week, I’d be afraid of Beanie. Besides, Beanie always plays well in Michigan.

— Finally, a sigh of relief for the health of Larry Fitzgerald. I’m sure Fitz isn’t feeling great and there’s always a chance he sits out part of practice. But the fact he came back in Monday night is huge, because it means he didn’t blow out his knee. When you consider how terrible the night could have been had Fitz gone down for the season, seven turnovers doesn’t hurt as bad.

Although, yes, it still hurt.


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Gandy out again with injury

Posted by Darren Urban on December 14, 2009 – 9:07 pm

The Cardinals have pulled left tackle Mike Gandy from the game with his pelvis injury. He was struggling tonight on a few plays and, knowing the job Jeremy Bridges did last week, it’s a move that makes sense.


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Gandy to start as inactives announced

Posted by Darren Urban on December 14, 2009 – 5:00 pm

The Cardinals have announced their inactives for tonight and there are no surprises. Left tackle Mike Gandy, as coach Ken Whisenhunt promised, will be available and he is expected to start. The full list of inactives:

  • QB Brian St. Pierre
  • CB Greg Toler
  • LB Reggie Walker
  • LB Will Davis (knee)
  • OL Herman Johnson
  • OL Brandon Keith
  • TE Stephen Spach
  • WR Jerheme Urban

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