Memorial Day will forever be linked with the Cardinals because of Pat Tillman. There are fewer higher-profile losses of life in the military than Tillman. Today is about all the thousands that have lost their life serving this country, regardless of how it happened. (I did not know, admittedly, that Memorial Day began originally to honor those who were killed during the Civil War.) Those who choose to join the military in any realm deserve our praise, and to make the ultimate sacrifice deserves our attention and everlasting thanks.
Still, this being a Cardinals site, Tillman is at the forefront. Former Cardinals wide receiver Rob Moore — now the receivers coach for the Buffalo Bills — tells of his relationship with Tillman to the Bills website. It’s a good read.
I also got a chance to catch up with Jake Plummer recently — there will be a story posted on the homepage later today — and asked him about Tillman, his longtime teammate with both the Cardinals and at Arizona State.
“It was awesome to be a teammate with Pat, from ASU through the Cardinal days,” Plummer said. “He brought a lot of passion to everything. Not just playing but the locker room, the training room, and to your friendship. He was all about passion and living life and challenging yourself. He was a lot like myself. I never went half-assed out there because I wasn’t good enough to be lackadaisical. I had to go 100 percent, whether it was practice, conditioning, whatever. Pat was like that too and it was fun to be with a guy the same kind of make and mold, effort-wise, with tenacity and courage.
“I’m sad he’s gone, just because I wanted to see what he had planned next. The guy was constantly moving forward.”
Tags: Jake Plummer, Memorial Day, Pat Tillman, Rob Moore
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Trips to Minnesota since I’ve been covering the Cardinals have frequently ended poorly. OK, not frequently. Always. My first trip there was for a 2000 preseason game, where four or five Cardinals suffered serious injuries on the one-time crappy turf, including the ACL tear for wide receiver Rob Moore. There were not very close losses in 2000 and 2006 (although the Cards were a Hail Mary away at the end to get an amazing comeback). There was the 2010 loss, which looked like it was in the bag with a two-touchdown lead with six minutes left (Favred!) and then last year, when the Cards simply melted down in the first quarter.
Year-to-year doesn’t matter – it’s a new team here, the Vikings are a new team, and for the most part, nothing carries over – but that’s at least the backdrop for the Cards this weekend. I don’t need to get into the schedule again (but if you forgot, it’s Niners, Packers, Falcons in the next three games) but this is important. The coaches know it. So do the players.
— This is an early game, kickoff 10 a.m. Arizona time. The Cards had one of those in New England, but that was after flying in on a Friday. The Cards don’t fly to Minnesota until tomorrow. They can’t afford to sleepwalk through the first quarter.
— I watched the video of Vikings defensive end Jared Allen meeting with the Minnesota media. Not surprisingly, he was asked multiple times about the Cards surrendering 22 sacks the past three games and the opportunity he had. Not surprisingly, he dodged bulletin-board material. Who knows? Maybe he actually made a good point:
“I’ve been in this league for so long, I’ve played teams where they’ve given up … I always go back to the Texans, who had given up, like, 50 sacks and we came in there like Week 10 or Week 11 (when he was with the Chiefs),” Allen said. “All we saw were bootlegs. Teams also know that. So you can’t sit there and say, ‘We’re going to lick our chops and get after the quarterback,’ because you’re going to get burned in the run.”
The Allen pass rush – he’s only got four sacks this season, below expectations — will be under the microscope Sunday, whether it is against D’Anthony Batiste or Bobby Massie.
— Linebacker Daryl Washington repeated the same message over and over: We have to stop 12 and 28. That’s Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson, in case you weren’t sure. Obvious, yes. But last year, quarterback Donovan McNabb was god-awful against the Cards (another reason why it confounds me a Cardinals fan would suggest signing McNabb) and yet the Vikings rolled. Peterson was awesome (three first-quarter TDs) and Harvin is a Swiss knife of a playmaker.
— Speaking of Peterson, it is still amazing he has returned from ACL surgery so quickly (he blew out his knee Christmas Eve 2011). He already has 499 yards rushing. “He’s not quite as bombastic in what he used to do,” Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton said, “but he still has our full respect.”
“He just never ever doubted,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “The only time he showed any doubt was when we were flying back from the game when he was injured in Washington. But after that it was full speed ahead from a mental standpoint and he’s never regressed.”
— The Cards are allowing just 16.2 points a game, fourth in the NFL behind the Bears, 49ers and Seahawks. Whatever the rest of the stats say, that works for Horton. “That’s the only stat that should be measured,” Horton said.
— It hurts to be missing safety Kerry Rhodes, down with the bad back. That means the Cards will have gone through a game without Rhodes, Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett so far. It’d be nice to have all the key pieces in place, and Rhodes is having a pretty good year. Horton more or less shrugged it off. “Hopefully we’re not built like a house of cards where one guy gets hurt it is doom and gloom,” he said. “I don’t think we are built that way.”
— In case you missed it, my visit this summer to Minnesota turned into this story about how Larry Fitzgerald loves his home state. (But don’t worry, he loves being in Arizona too.)
— Minnesota native Michael Floyd isn’t getting the kind of work he was hoping – 7 catches, 84 yards – but he’s hanging in there. “The ball doesn’t come that way often, so when it does, you have to make the play,” he said. Floyd made the spectacular catch against the Bills after failing to come down with one a couple of weeks previous. Both Ken Whisenhunt and offensive coordinator Mike Miller say Floyd is doing fine in his steps forward.
“If we were doing better offensively (overall), he’d probably be more involved, have more statistics,” Whisenhunt said.
John Skelton, you’re up.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Bobby Massie, D'Anthony Batiste, Daryl Washington, Jared Allen, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Percy Harvin, Ray Horton, Rob Moore, Vikings
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Former Cardinals receiver-turned-Cards radio analyst Rob Moore has left the building. Moore, who has long wanted to get into coaching — he was working with receivers at Phoenix College this past season — has returned to his alma mater to coach receivers for Syracuse. Moore was an all-American for Syracuse in 1989 and was one of the key components of the Cards’ 1998 playoff team. Most recently, he’s been working on the Cards’ “Pre-game Huddle” radio show on game days, taking some road trips, and also doing a little “Rob Report” on azcardinals.com. But coaching was his ultimate goal — eventually, I think, with the idea he’ll get into the NFL.
In the meantime, former Card Eric Hill, who lives in New Orleans, will take Moore’s spot on the pre-game show this weekend.
Tags: Eric Hill, Rob Moore
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