Darnell Dockett was asked if he would say hi to Ken Whisenhunt before Saturday’s game against the Chargers.
“Of course,” Dockett said of his former head coach, now San Diego’s offensive coordinator. “I have nothing against Coach Whiz. Wish him much success at San Diego. At the end of the day, it’s about the players on the field.”
Dockett and Whiz had butted heads at the end of last season, but time goes on. If Saturday’s game was in the regular season, if it meant something in the standings, Whisenhunt’s return to University of Phoenix Stadium would be a bigger story. It probably would help if there were some time and distance between his firing and now, too. But it’s tough not to notice too.
Patrick Peterson hasn’t forgotten he scored a touchdown on an interception in his first University of Phoenix Stadium game against the Chargers in the preseason of 2011. Reminded of that, Peterson said “hopefully I can get another pick-6 — especially on coach Whisenhunt.”
Peterson smiled. “It was a great two years with him. I’m happy for him he got another job. We miss him around here but we have a bunch of new faces that will help us turn the corner.”
Whisenhunt spoke to a couple of outlets in Arizona this week about his return trip, both with Kent Somers and Mike Jurecki. On Jurecki’s show (on Fox Sports 910 Phoenix), Whiz mostly talked about the support the fans gave him and the friends he made in the organization and said he wasn’t sure what response he will get in the stadium Saturday.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to but there are a lot of great memories,” Whisenhunt said. “I really don’t know. It will be different for me because it’ll be the first time I will be in the stadium where I am not a Cardinal.”
The holdover players will likely move over and greet Whiz before the game. That’s to be expected. From there, well, it is just preseason. Right?
“There will be a ceremonial dap or two, say hi,” guard Daryn Colledge said, “but then again I know he’ll have a mindset in making a point.”
As for the rest of the game – and the fact it is the “important” third preseason game on the slate:
— The starters are supposed to go into the third quarter against the Chargers. I don’t expect any surprises in the starting lineup and I’m not sure we’re going to get any changes before the opener, although Bruce Arians has not said for sure he’s settled on anything.
— Given the red-zone issues last week, that will be something very important to watch. The team worked on it again in practice Thursday and methinks the head coach needs to see progress in that area.
— The Cards were into practicing-like-it’s-regular-season-game-week mode this week, which makes sense going into the game where the starters will play the most. That included dressing linebacker Kenny Rowe in a red “93” jersey much of the week (the rest of the defense was wearing white) to know where pass rusher Dwight Freeney would be.
— Curious to see how much time Mike Thomas gets at receiver. He just showed up so he probably isn’t familiar with a ton yet. And Arians, earlier in the week, noted Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor are next up beyond the “big three” receivers for playing time. Does Thomas have to wait to get much time, at least until Denver?
— Big game for Karlos Dansby, just in terms of seeing him on the field. Didn’t play the first two weeks, probably won’t play a lot against the Broncos. But he practiced all week and this will be a good tune-up.
— If this is the game in which the main players are going to get a lot of time, does that mean Patrick Peterson gets a few offensive reps? It’s going to be very interesting to see how much time on the offensive side of the ball he does get when games begin to count.
— Ryan Williams will likely be suited up. But again, if this is about the guys in the main rotation, Williams is going to have to cut in line to get much work. And you still have to wonder how much work he can handle with one practice in three weeks.
— Larry Fitzgerald turns 30 next week and is feeling the pinch of Father Time. If you didn’t see it, here’s my story.
— The Cardinals currently have 88 players on the roster. They must trim to 75 by Tuesday (although I’d guess their cuts will be before then. There will be practice Monday.) If you wonder about who is getting cut, keep an eye on the players who do not get a snap against the Chargers. If you are going to release someone, you don’t want them getting hurt.
— Once, as noted by Bob Glauber deep in this piece about Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez, reigning Super Bowl winning QB Phil Simms not only played in the fourth preseason game, but he played the whole game. As he noted, he’s not sure when the third game became the important one.
— Yet we do know, thanks to Denny Green, this game doesn’t count, but it matters. After all, who takes the third game of the preseason like it’s … well, you know.
Tags: Chargers, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Jaron Brown, Karlos Dansby, Ken Whisenhunt, Kenny Rowe, Kerry Taylor, Mike Thomas, Patrick Peterson, Phil Simms, Roster, Ryan Williams
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Thanks to some obvious rhyming and a “can’t miss” quarterback prospect, the phrase “Suck for Luck” has become all the rage among the fan bases of poor teams this season in the NFL. It’s catchy to a point, although for all the reasons expected, it’s never true. Sure, there are going to be bad teams and someone indeed will be bad enough to end up with the No. 1 pick, but there are never players who are thinking about who their team might draft the following April. If you are on that bad of a team, sweeping changes usually come to the roster anyway — so there is no reason to do anything but play hard and try to win. If someone is seen dogging in on video, who’s going to want them going forward?
But what I really found interesting in the whole Luck talk was what former QB Phil Simms said about the 0-7 Colts and whether Peyton Manning will try to come back this season from his neck injury: “There is no way if Peyton Manning is given a clean bill of health — I’m going to go on that assumption — that he is going to let them draft Andrew Luck.” If Manning does come back late this season, he’s going to find a way to win a couple games, you’d think.
Even though Manning is one of the best quarterbacks ever and just signed a new contract, Simms pointed out the pressure that would come in Indy with Luck lurking on the bench. “In this day and age, even with Peyton Manning, people would be crying, ‘We’ve got to see Andrew Luck.’ ”
To which I say, that’s absolutely true.
Think Favre-Rodgers, and how messy that got in Green Bay. Heck, more than a few eyebrows were raised in New England in April when the Patriots drafted Ryan Mallett, and that was with an extra third-round pick and not the first choice overall. I am reminded of an interview I had with Kurt Warner a couple weeks before the 2006 draft, when it seemed very possible the Cardinals would take a quarterback. Warner clearly did not want the Cards to take a QB. He had just been through the Eli Manning thing in New York a couple of years before. He wanted to play a few more years and get back to the Super Bowl.
“What’s the best way to do that?” he said. “Not to take a guy who is going to take over my job. Go get somebody who can help us next year.”
The Cards did take a QB, obviously, Matt Leinart (and they would have taken Jay Cutler had Leinart been gone). Warner wasn’t thrilled, and his concern about the pressure to play the rookie came to bear when Warner was bad in the first 3 1/2 games (fumbling 10 times!) and then being replaced. That doesn’t mean Manning will have the same problem. But it illustrates — especially knowing what we know now of how Warner/Leinart/post-Warner played out — how finding that good quarterback to carry you can be complicated. Even if you already have one of the greatest ever, yet still have ended up sucking for Luck.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, Phil Simms
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