Across from Patrick Peterson, a revolving door

Posted by Darren Urban on June 16, 2017 – 10:05 am

It’s the dead time between the end of minicamp and training camp, and again, there is the question: Who will be the cornerback starting across from Patrick Peterson? As it stands, Justin Bethel is the leader in the clubhouse, although he was that at this time last year (despite a foot injury) and he never started a game. As we talked about in the latest Cardinals Underground podcast, Bethel has looked better than he had. Health helps. But until the pads come on and the games count, it’s impossible to know for sure.

But it got me to thinking about the position since Patrick Peterson arrived. Peterson, the fifth overall pick in 2011, had a learning curve himself when he was drafted. He wasn’t a great cornerback as a rookie, but he was solid. And he started all 16 games. His cohort opposite? It has not been the same player two years in a row, and that’s a trend that will continue this season regardless of whether it is Bethel or a veteran who might sign before camp or whoever.

2011 — Richard Marshall 9 starts/A.J. Jefferson 7 starts: Jefferson actually was the starter coming out of camp, but he faded quickly and was replaced by the veteran Marshall. Marshall was OK. He was probably better known as one of the better punt return blockers that got Peterson loose for his spectacular rookie year as a return man.

2012 — William Gay 15/Greg Toler 1: Gay signed as a free agent but was up and down. He immediately went back to Pittsburgh, where he was better suited and still starts. Then again, 2012 wasn’t good for any of the Cardinals. Remember 4-0 that year?

2013 — Jerraud Powers 16: One of the first free agents signed after Steve Keim and Bruce Arians took over. Powers was steady, although he was probably better suited in the slot. The Cardinals had Tyrann Mathieu plans there, so Powers dutifully worked the outside, and he was fine.

2014 — Antonio Cromartie 16: Cro was the ultimate Keim blue light special. Came in, was mostly good (although there were a few high-profile hiccups, especially later in the season when the team struggled) and made the Pro Bowl. But he wasn’t going to re-sign for cheap again, the Jets made him a big offer, and Cromartie started showing his age in New York.

2015 — Powers 13/Justin Bethel 3: Powers was disappointed but a team player when the Cards upgraded to Cromartie, and stepped back in the breech as the only two-time Peterson companion (Bethel’s starts came during Powers’ injuries.) Again, he was solid for a team that made the NFC Championship. But the Cardinals wanted to upgrade, there was belief Bethel could take a step forward, and Powers was allowed to leave in free agency when the sides couldn’t match up on the money it would take to keep him around.

2016 — Marcus Cooper 13/Brandon Williams 3: We know the story by now. Bethel was the pick, but was hurt. Mike Jenkins was the likely starter before blowing out his knee in preseason. The veteran Cooper was the late trade before the season, and got the spot after the rookie Williams showed he was clearly not ready after being the early choice. Cooper left as a free agent, getting a surprisingly nice deal in Chicago. And here we are again.

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Cardinals snag Mendenhall

Posted by Darren Urban on March 13, 2013 – 11:31 am

The Cardinals have made a free agency move (and the fan base can exhale.) While the team has not officially announced anything yet, the agent for running back Rashard Mendenhall tweeted out that Mendenhall agreed to a one-year contract with the Cardinals. Mendenhall played under coach Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh and had his best season when Arians was there. He did tear an ACL in 2011 and spent last year coming back from that. But the one-year deal works on both ends — the Cards get a player motivated to prove his worth, and Mendenhall has a chance to boost his stock and re-visit free agency next season. Reportedly, the Broncos were also offering Mendenhall a one-year contract.

The Cardinals also gave recent free agents like DB Richard Marshall and LB Quentin Groves one-year deals and those worked out pretty well (although both got paid elsewhere after the one year.)

Mendenhall will have a chance to work with Ryan Williams in the backfield. Both have battled injuries. Both have much to prove.

And I have a feeling, with QB Drew Stanton and ILB Rey Maualuga and CB Jerraud Powers all scheduled to visit today, and other names in the fire (now Antoine Cason the cornerback will visit), there will be more news today.


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Free agents list and comp picks

Posted by Darren Urban on February 27, 2013 – 6:05 pm

Free agency is still a couple weeks away — March 12 for those who have forgotten — but for those who want to keep track of the Cardinals’ comings and goings, here is the page to do so. On it you can see the Cards’ own unrestricted and exclusive free agents going into the offseason. I ran into free agent safety Rashad Johnson today. He sounded upbeat about his status with the Cards but he wasn’t there to sign a new deal or anything. Those deals, I would think, will be deadline-driven probably. The Cards have talked to many of the agents for free agents, but again, I don’t think anything is about to pop.

The Alex Smith trade — or the reported trade that is going to happen — to the Chiefs will give the 49ers another draft pick this season. That, along with the anticipated compensatory picks the 49ers will get for losing free agents last offseason, will give San Francisco 15 draft picks for April. The day has been littered with speculation over what the Niners will do with all those picks. It’s too many to draft. No way 15 rookies make the team. So the Niners might as well trade some of them for players (Revis? Harvin?) or to move up and get a better pick or two or nab a rookie they really want.

Speaking of comp picks, I don’t expect the Cards to have any. They lost cornerback Richard Marshall to the Dolphins (to a pretty big contract) but signed free agents like William Gay, Adam Snyder and James Sanders. So that means the Cards will likely have only their seven picks — none in the seventh round and two in the sixth round. The official list of compensatory picks usually is released during the March owners’ meetings, which this year happen to be in Arizona.

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New coach, but same plan for Peterson on punts

Posted by Darren Urban on February 7, 2013 – 4:53 pm

The Cardinals may have a new coach, but Bruce Arians will be sticking with the old way of how the team was returning punts – Patrick Peterson will remain that guy.

“He can’t get his hands on the ball enough for me,” Arians said, chuckling. “As long as the other team is punting, he’s going to be back there. And hopefully they will be punting a lot.”

Peterson’s sophomore campaign as a punt returner didn’t come close to measuring up to his Pro Bowl-earning rookie season, even as his play as a cornerback elevated to Pro Bowl status. Teams were much more leery of kicking to Peterson in 2012, and it probably didn’t help that one of his key blockers — defensive back Richard Marshall — wasn’t around after leaving as a free agent to go to the Dolphins.

On 51 returns in 2012, Peterson averaged 8.4 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown and his longest return was 26 yards, which he did twice. Compare that to 2011, when he had four touchdowns and averaged 15.9 yards on 44 returns and he had seven returns of at least 29 yards. Inevitably, teams were going to shy away from him.

Not that it matters to Arians.

Peterson will return “until he waves me off and says, ‘Coach, can I take a blow?’ ” Arians said. “That’s a scoring opportunity every time.”


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Marshall signs with Dolphins

Posted by Darren Urban on March 14, 2012 – 7:01 pm

The Cards got offensive lineman Adam Snyder Wednesday, but lost cornerback/safety Richard Marshall, who tweeted out that he agreed to a three-year deal with the Miami Dolphins. The Cards wanted Marshall back, no question. Marshall said in the tweet “they made me stay in Miami lol,” which would seem to mean they weren’t going to let him go without him signing. That’s the risk you take when a guy hits the open market. Adam Schefter reports it’s a $16 million deal with $6 million in guarantees.

(Marshall, in a follow-up tweet to a fan, said “Az didn’t match.” Goes back to value for each player and what is budgeted for the position, as GM Rod Graves has said a couple of times, and at some point, a team has to decide when to push away from the table. It explains a little more why a deal for Marshall couldn’t get done before free agency. Drew Rosenhaus wanted a payday for Marshall and Marshall got it, and good for him. That’s business. That’s what free agency is about.)

Marshall became invaluable last season for the Cardinals because of his versatility. He was starting at cornerback by the end of the season when A.J. Jefferson couldn’t find consistency, and he played free safety on passing downs in his tandem with Rashad Johnson when starter Kerry Rhodes was out with a broken foot. I’m not going to sugarcoat and say Marshall won’t be missed, because he will and again, the Cards wanted him. At the same time, assuming cornerback Greg Toler returns and Rhodes remains healthy, they have some pieces to replace Marshall even if they don’t sign anyone else. Marshall, in fact, was running as the fourth cornerback in training camp before Toler got hurt.

Jefferson will be forced to get better, which they think he can given a full offseason. Jefferson was an undrafted rookie in 2010 and didn’t get  a lot of offseason reps and last year, of course, there was no offseason. That’s no guarantee Jefferson will step forward but it’s something to keep in mind. Where Marshall will definitely be missed is the locker room. He was a quiet, steady influence and studied video a ton. That kind of example is always good to have around.

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With right deal, Levi will be back — and the QB thing

Posted by Darren Urban on February 23, 2012 – 11:46 am

I’ll have more in a story in a bit, but the biggest news coming from today’s media meet-up by coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves is that the Cards definitely want tackle Levi Brown back, and they want him back long-term. There is a lot that has to happen first, since Levi has a $16.9 million salary cap number and must have a new contract first — and he may choose to be cut and test the open market — but the acknowledgment they want him back is significant (if not somewhat expected, to be honest, as much as many fans were hoping otherwise.)

By all accounts, Brown played better over the last seven or eight games of the season. The Cards are hoping he turned a corner. Make no mistake, they have a value in mind for Brown and that’s what they are going to want to pay him. If he can get more elsewhere, then he’ll probably have to take it there. But Brown said he wants to come back, and the Cards want him back.

Graves also said it is a “priority” to re-sign cornerback Richard Marshall and that talks are ongoing with defensive end Calais Campbell and “I believe we will have a resolution at some point.”

As for the quarterbacks, Graves didn’t say anything new than what has been said before, that, based on the information today — which, reading between the lines is that Peyton Manning hasn’t been cut yet — the Cards have Kevin Kolb and John Skelton and that the team believes in their QBs. Things can always change, which is exactly what you’d expect them to say right now. No reason to say otherwise. As Graves said on a Sirius radio interview, “I don’t answer the phone before it rings.”

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Breaking down the roster

Posted by Darren Urban on January 3, 2012 – 4:21 pm

Here was a key line from coach Ken Whisenhunt’s season-ending press conference after the 2010 season: “As far as personnel change, there’s going to be change. When you go 5-11, there are going to be changes that are made. It has to be that way.”

Monday, Whisenhunt’s team still hadn’t made the playoffs, but it was three games better. Thus: “You don’t anticipate a lot of changes.”

There will be some of course. That’s inevitable. Some players will be determined replaceable. Some will be wanted back, but at the right price, which always leaves the door open for them eventually leaving. And there is always the chance an unexpectedly good player will come available that simply has to be had, even if there isn’t necessarily a place for him to immediately play.

If there is one thing Whisenhunt has repeated over and over and over in his five seasons, it’s that every offseason “we are always looking to improve.”

Free agency and the draft comes later (free agency is first, March 13, a Tuesday, at 2 p.m. Arizona time). First, the Cardinals coaches – after undergoing an evaluation process themselves – have to sort through the Cardinals’ roster. Not that they need it, but for your viewing pleasure, here is my annual breakdown of the Cards’ roster and what each individual’s contract status is as of today.

The top priority is re-signing DE Calais Campbell. I have no idea if anything is close. I know they’ve been talking, I haven’t heard anyone be pessimistic and Whisenhunt himself said he didn’t want to talk about it Monday because he didn’t want to jinx anything – and could that be a hint, since you don’t worry about jinxing something that won’t happen, right? Either way, Campbell will be back because they will franchise him if they must.

Other keys players to watch, in my opinion: DB Richard Marshall, of course, but the price will have to work both ways. The Cards have a load of DBs. Not sure exactly how they feel about A.J. Jefferson right now, but defensive coordinator Ray Horton sure likes Marshall. I’d think they’d want him to return. What about good locker room guys and defensive veterans like LB Clark Haggans and DE Vonnie Holliday? Or WR Early Doucet? The Cards also have all three specialists – K Jay Feely, P Dave Zastudil and long snapper Mike Leach – who have expired contracts.

This is what was missing last offseason. Oh, we had the questions in January, we just didn’t have the answers until late July. I love those who still ask what I do in the offseason – really, given the interest, there is no offseason. It’s already time to talk the 2012 season.

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Friday before the Seahawks

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2011 – 4:02 pm

The last week of the season – in a playoff-less year – is always so strange. The grind is the same all week, just like every other week. Then the game happens Sunday, and you can almost hear the squeal of the brakes as everything comes to an abrupt halt.

There’s always some cleanup involved. I’ll be down in the locker room Monday talking to some of the players who are scheduled to be free agents and getting a sense of the offseason to come. It’ll be different. This is the first time in three offseasons quarterback won’t be the major story. After the ’08 season, the team had to re-sign Kurt Warner, which took a little time (and a visit to San Francisco for Warner). After ’09, it was the Warner retirement speculation (which ultimately happened). Last year, everyone knew the starting quarterback wasn’t in the locker room (plus the lockout was going to mess with things).

I’m not 100 percent sure who the starting QB will be in 2012 – if you ask me on Dec. 30, 2011, I’m saying Kevin Kolb – but I feel pretty good in saying he is already on the roster.

But there is a game left, one more weekend to barrel into full speed.

— Skelton will start one last time against the Seahawks with a chance to put the slow start thing in the rear view. One thing I do like about Skelton – he hasn’t sugar-coated his issues. Of the five sacks suffered in Cincy last weekend, “either three or four of them were probably on me, whether it’s not throwing a hot throw or not throwing a safety sight or just holding it too long.”

“Like anything, with experience and time, (quicker starts) will come,” Skelton said. “At the same time, there are mistakes that even a rookie shouldn’t be making that I’m making out there sometimes.”

Why, he is asked. “That’s the million-dollar question,” Skelton said. “I don’t know.”

The Seattle defense is pretty good. It hasn’t allowed more than 19 points in a game in more than a month. It gave up just 10 to the Cards in the first meeting (although kicker Jay Feely missed a couple of field goals that day). Skelton will be tested.

— Honestly, I was a little surprised that Patrick Peterson could do as much as he did today. After the Cincinnati game, I was sure there was no way he’d play against Seattle. Now it seems like a legit game0-day decision.

— Linebacker Sam Acho has six sacks, which is the most for a Cardinals’ rookie since … wait for it … Mark Smith had six in 1997.

— Fitz needs 38 yards to reach 1,300. He needs 138 to reach 1,400. I expect the former, not the latter, but if he ends up with 1,400 yards, I may say, given circumstances, it’s his best season.

— If the Cards beat the Seahawks, that’ll be five straight home wins. The franchise hasn’t done that since 1976.

— If you are looking for some of Ron Wolfley’s annual Cards awards – including some highlights of the team’s coolest plays of the year – watch this piece.

— I have not heard about the roof status for Sunday. It’s supposed to be 75 degrees, which is right at the general cutoff they have for the roof (an outside temp of 75 gets it hotter in certain parts of the stadium). I am expecting a game-day decision.

— Linebacker Joey Porter told Kent Somers he wants to play in 2012. I guess that doesn’t surprise me. I think I might be surprised if he can find a team. He really struggled this year when he did play.

— It’s telling that DC Ray Horton called Richard Marshall “my MVP” because what he allowed Horton to do with the defense. Of course, Calais Campbell and Adrian Wilson and Daryl Washington had very good years. But the guys who are versatile and become key components, those catch the coaches’ eyes and Marshall has done just that.

Marshall is a free agent and is open to returning. He’s also one of those players that, not mincing words, got screwed in free agency because of the lockout and the CBA rules on restricted FA the last couple of years. Word is it bothered him in Carolina. But he’s been a model locker room man. He’s up studying video with DB coach Louie Cioffi all the time (I’ve seen him in there) and he didn’t blink when asked to play safety. You want an under-the-radar guy on this defense, Marshall is it.

— I have had a lot of people ask me if I think 8-8 is a successful season. I answer like this, in context – because you always need context.

Before the season, I thought this team was going to go 9-7 and win the division. I obviously didn’t see the 49ers coming. In the end, 8-8 is pretty close (assuming the Cards win Sunday) to where I thought they would be. A successful season is making the postseason when you think you can, and the Cards rightfully felt they could have before the season. Hard to claim success when you don’t make there.

They lost in Baltimore when they shouldn’t have. I remember being down on the field for the end of the Rams’ game, thinking that it would hurt this team so much if they fell to a bad Rams team, even if the Cards too were bad. Peterson took care of that, and off they went.

Being around here when the Cards ran off the road, walking the halls when the team had lost six straight, to think they’d even sniff .500, I mean, it was hard to think that. On the doorstep now, success might not be the word I’d use. But I’d echo coach Ken Whisenhunt: I do think it’d be significant.

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Friday before the Browns

Posted by Darren Urban on December 16, 2011 – 5:05 pm

With safety Adrian Wilson playing so well, I thought it was appropriate to do a story on him this week, and he’s clearly becoming a story everywhere. Friday, he popped up on Jim Rome’s radio show, and he was A-Dub-honest. When it came to his self-assessment of his play during the first month of the season, “I was terrible. I was horrible. I didn’t like seeing myself like that on tape.”

More revealing was his comment about that play when it came to being a leader on the defense. “It hurt me emotionally the way that I was playing,” Wilson said. “I knew I wasn’t that type of player, and I knew what I was doing in games early on in the year, that wasn’t me. It hurt me inside, and I wanted to show my teammates I was still that guy, that guy they could depend on, still that playmaker. That fueled me as the season went on.”

He admitted coming back from the right biceps injury was mentally difficult, a strain that made it harder when he was already learning the defense. Wilson said he wasn’t doing a lot of interviews this season because he wanted the young players, guys like linebacker Daryl Washington and linebacker Sam Acho, to get the spotlight.

Besides, for the team, the most important thing is Wilson’s play on the field, which has been 180 degrees from “terrible.”

“Shoot, he didn’t talk to me the first two years I was here,” safety Hamza Abdullah said with a grin (and folks, that was a joke). “Between the white lines, he doesn’t care. You could be his Auntie, his next door neighbor, the guy who needs help crossing the street, if you are between the lines and wearing a different colored helmet, he is going to hit you hard, not care, push you down after the play. You want a guy like that on your team. He keeps it clean, but he’ll make you feel it at the end of the day.”

Clearly the Cardinals’ defense has played better because there are a bunch of players who understand the scheme better. But it’s not a coincidence Wilson has found a groove at the same time.

“I feel I am the emotional leader for this team,” Wilson said. “I may not say a lot during the week or do a lot of interviews but come game day being that emotional guy, being a guy who is out front, I think that’s important for the team defensively.”

On to Browns’ weekend:

— The streaking Cards’ defense runs into an offense that was struggling anyway and now must turn to backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. Good news, right? Well, perhaps the better news is the message – whomever is giving it, whether it is coach Ken Whisenhunt or defensive coordinator Ray Horton or  players leaders – that the only thing that matters is the next game and not whatever success the unit is having. No one is paying attention to the growing compliments.

“One thing I know, a pat on the back is six inches from a slap in the face,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “I treat that the same. We just want to do it for each other.”

— If the Cardinals win, Whisenhunt notches his 43rd win, most in franchise history for a head coach (and yes, postseason is included).

— If the Cards win, that’s a four-game winning streak, something they haven’t done since 1999.

— Is it feast or famine for this team? The Cards do have five offensive touchdowns of more than 50 yards this season (and an NFL-leading nine, thanks to Patrick Peterson’s four punt-return scores). Big plays have become the norm.

— Beanie Wells needs 57 yards rushing to reach 1,000 for the season. You know he’d like to do it against the Browns, the team that plays about a half-hour from his Akron home – and one for he once dreamt about playing.

— Starting cornerback/nickel safety Richard Marshall has turned into a valuable piece for Horton. He’s also a guy who signed only a one-year contract as a free agent before the season (which made sense, given the high hopes with Peterson, the injured Greg Toler and A.J. Jefferson by the time they got to 2012). He would seem to be a guy the Cards want to keep around. Marshall sounded like a veteran when asked about his future in Arizona.

“I like it here,” Marshall said. “My family likes it here, it’s a great place to play. Not too far from home. We will see what happens at the end of the year. The only thing I am thinking about is these last three games.”

— Wilson was fined $7,500 for roughing the passer after he grabbed 49ers quarterback Alex Smith’s facemask as he went flying by during a play last week. Niners linebacker Larry Grant was fined $15,000 for hitting Cards QB John Skelton below the knees, although reports from San Francisco are that Grant is appealing the fine because he said he hit Skelton in the thigh area.

— There has been only one team Larry Fitzgerald has not played against in his career – the Cleveland Browns. He missed the 2007 meeting because of a groin injury.

— Speaking of Fitz, he was asked about how to deal with the offensive slow starts: “I just keep hoping our defense can keep playing well in the first half so our engine can get going in the second,” he deadpanned. “Naw, we have to play better. The first half, it’s unacceptable for us to start that slow.”

John Skelton, Sunday’s probable starter at quarterback with Kevin Kolb’s concussion issues, has a 22.4 passer rating in the first quarter this season (and 100.8 in the fourth quarter).

Fitz may have been talking tongue-in-cheek, but the way the defense is playing, his idea just might work.

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Rams aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 6, 2011 – 11:35 pm

He had just four catches for 43 yards – although he finally got another touchdown – and yet Larry Fitzgerald’s smile was wide, possibly the biggest he has sported since signing that contract extension in late August.

Fitz stood at the postgame press conference podium with that smile and said, “You have no idea how hard it has been coming up here six weeks in a row. It’s a great feeling to come out of here with a ‘W,’ with the passion and the way we did it.”

The tangible reason why no team would want to Suck For Luck? That was it Sunday at UoP. The bellowing from the team in the locker room that could be heard through the walls afterward sounded like what would happen after a playoff win, not a second win in eight games. On Sunday, it’s not about the record or the race. Those are things to be considered the other six days of the week. Sunday is about the win, and that feeling when you get that win – especially the way it happened Sunday – and nothing else.

— “We have rules,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It’s not just, ‘Go back there and catch whatever you can, wherever you want to catch it.” When the ball is inside the 10-yard line, I mean, that’s a hard and fast rule. Yet Patrick Peterson is averaging an NFL-best 21.8 yards a punt return, and has three punt return touchdowns in eight NFL games. I called him a prodigy last week in that aspect of the game, and then, Sunday.

— Here’s another punt-return rule: Once the gunners reach the 20-yard line, the guys blocking them – in this case on the final punt, A.J. Jefferson and Richard Marshall – are supposed to let them go. Peterson said he told them to hold on to the blocks. Jefferson actually did let his guy go at the 20, but Marshall – blocking on the right side, which is where Peterson went – stayed engaged. Marshall said it’s a lesson long learned.

“We know a couple times, we let them go inside the 20 and Patrick caught it and he could have made some yards and that was on us,” Marshall said. “Those are the rules, but we are going to stay on our man unless he gives us the ‘peter’ call (to get away as the ball bounces) because you never know. Sometimes he doesn’t catch it, and, (expletive), sometimes he catches it on the 1 like he did today.”

— I haven’t looked yet, but I know there are going to be plenty of Skelton-should-play-over-Kolb comments, or questions along those lines. I tried to make that point last week, and I will do it one more time: The Cardinals need to find out, over an entire season, what they have in Kevin Kolb. Kolb, if healthy, needs to play.

John Skelton played a decent game Sunday. He won, and he is 3-2 as a starter. All that is true. Kolb, in my opinion, still should play. I’m pretty sure that’s how the Cards will approach it. Feel free to argue why you feel otherwise. It feels sometimes that the Kolb vs. Skelton is like some of the most polarizing arguments we have in this country from the aspect that no one really is going to be swayed: Those who want Kolb out aren’t going to change their minds.

— One caveat on Skelton, with all due respect to the big guy, whom I’d really like to succeed: He has three wins in five tries as a starter. Some have said that’s all that matters. Perhaps. But in three wins, the defense has allowed a mere 13 points in two of them, and in the other – the Christmas Cowboys win – the defense provided two interception returns for touchdowns. My point? I think Skelton will do well with that kind of defense. I think Kolb would too.

— The defense was solid. They kept the Rams out of the end zone. They stuffed the Rams twice on short-yardage runs to stop the first potential game-winning field-goal drive, and it came up with the forced punt in overtime even though the Rams got the ball first.

— Lucky for Peterson for the field-goal block, because otherwise, his pass interference that gave the Rams a first down and set up that last attempt would have stung. Fox analyst Chad Pennington said it probably shouldn’t have been flagged (Peterson admitted he thought it was a bad call, although “I’m not going to criticize the referee”) but it was another example of Peterson drawing flags.

— That was an impressive interception by Peterson on the flea-flicker try early in the game. Peterson was beat, but his speed made up for it.

— Big, big day for Calais Campbell. He had the blocked field goal, a sack-and-a-half, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits.

— Think there is something to the chemistry between rookies that came in together? Andre Roberts had been invisible for a month. With Skelton starting, Roberts had five catches for 55 yards – one more reception than he had had in the previous four games combined.

— Marshall moved into the starting lineup Sunday, replacing A.J. Jefferson. Jefferson continues to play in nickel situations because Marshall is playing free safety, but Marshall is the official starter.

— Beanie Wells struggled quite a bit. Hopefully that was about issues in the run game and what the Rams were doing, and not so much that Wells couldn’t get going because of his sore knee.

— Tight end Todd Heap was active, but he did not play in the game. Apparently he was there for an emergency or a special package that wasn’t used. UPDATE: Apparently Heap did play, although I am not sure how many snaps. Couldn’t have been many. The official game summary said he did not, but that is a mistake.

There’s more to talk about, but that can come tomorrow. It’s always easy to ramble on and on after a win.

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