OK….NOW it’s official

Ken Whisenhunt has named Kurt Warner the starting QB over Matt Leinart.  Says Whisenhunt, “you want to win now and who’s going to give us that best chance to win now.”

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Leinart, obviously, was upset, and Whisenhunt said he would have been disappointed otherwise. 

Leinart, obviously, wasn’t available for comment on Saturday.

Apparently Leinart has a temper, which surfaced on more than one occasion last season, particularly after his season-ending injury, when his offseason escapades were plastered all over the internet for the world to see, and following the rumors after the Cardinals’ loss to Oakland in week 3. 

Granted, I, too, would be angry after sustaining an injury like that, but it’s how one handles oneself afterward which dictates the quality of one’s character.  Particularly in the media and under the scrutinizing eye of the public.

Can anyone say Ryan Leaf, Jr.??

(Source: azcardinals.com)


Glad it’s still preseason

The Cardinals had another unspectacular preseason outing against an AFC West team, losing to the Denver Broncos 28-14 tonight; however, Arizona’s starters did well, with the Broncos scoring 18 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. 

Kurt Warner did get the start and went 4 of 4 for 48 yds in his almost one full quarter of play.  Matt Leinart fared much better than last week going 10 of 14 for 177 yds and a TD.  Rookie Anthony Morelli (out of Penn State) tossed 2 INTs and will probably become one of the roster cut fatalities for tomorrow.  Brian St. Pierre was a bit off as well, but I don’t think he has anything to worry about.

As for scoring, Leinart’s TD pass went to TE Leonard Pope, in addition to a 26-yd TD run by J.J. Arrington.

The Cardinals did manage to keep the penalties down – only 2-15 yds (compared to Denver’s 8-65 yds).

Defensively, a couple of forced fumbles and a pair of INTs were the highlights.

Tomorrow, rosters must be cut from 75 to 53 players, so I’m sure the coaching staff has a coffee-fueled night and morning ahead of them.

Next week the Cardinals will open the regular season in San Francisco against the division-rival 49ers.  (I’ll be in San Diego at the Chargers’ home opener vs. Carolina so my postgame report will be a bit delayed, but fear not!

leonard_pope.jpg  Leonard Pope

p1_warner.jpg  J.J. Arrington & Kurt Warner


St. Pierre for President, er Starting QB

So, Kurt Warner is getting the start vs. Denver on 8/29, the Cardinals’ final preseason game (and my birthday!!)  Apparently, we all (and this includes NFL.com) believed that Ken Whisenhunt had, in fact, named Warner the starting QB for the season over Matt Leinart, following Leinart’s abysmal play vs. the Raiders last week.  But we were in error.  The fact remains that Whisenhunt still has not made a decision.  His decision for the Broncos matchup was based upon the discrepancy in playing time between the two:  while Leinart has taken 57 preseason snaps, Warner has only had 30.  Additionally, Whisenhunt wants to see how Warner fares with the first string.  It is also very likely that both QBs will get some playing time Friday night.

First of all, what is wrong with having a tandem at the QB position (aside from annoying the heck out of fantasy team owners?)  After all, there isn’t just one RB, WR, or TE, is there?  Say, for example, that Warner could be put in for passing plays while Leinart goes in to hand off the ball to the RBs.  JUST KIDDING! (Sheesh, I wouldn’t want anyone to remove me from their MySpace friend list or anything like that!!)  Of course, that would be entirely too predictable.  But mixing up the QBs would definitely give defenses something to ponder.

Then there’s Brian St. Pierre; currently the Cards’ 3rd string QB.  This Boston College alumnus (Doug Flutie anyone?) has been in the league for 6 years, with 3 of his first 5 seasons in Pittsburgh working for – you guessed it – Whisenhunt.  So there is some professional history between them which led Arizona to grab the free agent after last season injuries to both Warner and Leinart provided the impetus for a competent 3rd string QB.

To make matters interesting, Whisenhunt said that St. Pierre has played well enough during the preseason to have a legitimate shot at starting.  Now, the degree of seriousness behind this statement is up for debate, and St. Pierre himself said he isn’t sure where he fits “in the puzzle.”  He says he feels he’s played pretty well, but there is always room for improvement.  In fact, this preseason, St. Pierre has had more playing time than during his entire previous 5 seasons, throwing an impressive 23 of 30 passes for 220 yds and 2 TDs – that’s a 77% completion rate and a passer rating of 118.7.

Whether St. Pierre feels he can start or not, he is definitely in the mix.  And if not this season, then quite realistically, next season.  With Warner’s advanced age (hey, I’m not ragging on him, I’m older than he is…sob) and Leinart’s inconsistencies, St. Pierre might just find himself atop the QB depth chart in 2009 – if not sooner.

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(Source: azcardinals.com)


Cards Smoke the Raiders!!

It appears that, despite a 24-0 victory for Arizona, Matt Leinart’s starting job is in danger.  4-12 for 24 yds and 3 interceptions is definitely not a stellar performance.  While Ken Whisenhunt claims that after watching the tapes, it wasn’t all Leinart’s fault, Kurt Warner is waiting in the wings to take over the starting job again this year.  It all boils down to how Leinart handles everything following his subpar performance; however, Whisenhunt says he’s not worried about Leinart’s confidence.  I suppose it all remains to be seen.  I hope they decide soon, I drafted Leinart in one of my fantasy leagues (despite having him last season, injury and all) and need to know if I need to trade him.

Things went from bad to worse for the Raiders.  Oakland WR Drew Carter and FB Oren O’Neal suffered season-ending knee injuries during the Cardinals’ rout of the Raiders last weekend.   Carter had signed a $2 million contract in the offseason, and was only 3 experienced receivers on Oakland’s roster, behind Ronald Curry and ex-Bronco Javon Walker. 

You know, there are already entirely too many injuries already this year.  Houston WR Harry Williams had season ending surgery after fracturing his neck and sustaining ligament damage, Giants’ Osi Umenyiora is out for the year with a knee injury, San Diego’s Shawne Merriman may have season-ending surgery on torn knee ligaments…not a dubious start to the season, to say the least.

On a positive note, rookie RB Tim Hightower scored his 3rd TD in as many games, and was officially moved to #2 on the depth chart behind Edgerrin James.

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(Source: azcardinals.com)


Remembering a Legend

The NFL is mourning the death of Gene Upshaw, Hall of Fame offensive lineman and NFL Players Association president, from pancreatic cancer only just diagnosed last week.  He was only 63.

Upshaw played 15 years with the Oakland Raiders, won 2 Super Bowl rings, and was elected to 7 pro bowls.

You can read more about his life, career, and contributions to the league here.

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Arrivaderci Flagstaff

The team completed training camp 2008 up in the picturesque pines of Flagstaff and headed back down the mountain to their own training facility in Tempe.  Coach Whisenhunt called camp a success with no major injuries and the only drama besides a minor scuffle last week during practice being the hullaballoo with Anquan Boldin.

The Cards will be in Oakland on Saturday, then home against Denver on 8/29 to complete their preseason schedule.  Following the Denver game, the team will be cut to the final 53-man roster (it’s currently at 80.)

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(Leaving mountain beauty and 75-80 degrees for a concrete-laden, crowded, 107 degree metropolis)

(Source: azcardinals.com)


You really can’t blame him

According to NFL Total Access, Anquan Boldin says he has no relationship with Coach Whisenhunt anymore and would like to be traded.  While it is a bit late for a trade request, it’s not like this is a sudden statement.  After watching teammate Larry Fitzgerald get a huge contract extension (4 years, $40 million compared to Boldin’s average $4 million/year) in the offseason, he feels slighted, and in my opinion, has every right to be.  Additionally the team’s latest offer was for half of Fitz’s.

Boldin told NFL Network that “he would produce on the field and that is it.  As long as I’m here, I can’t see myself as a happy member of this organization at all, not with this situation being what it is. I don’t see it being rectified, either. The relationship with me and the organization is done. I’m here to uphold my contract, that’s it.”

After telling his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to cease negotiations with the Cardinals, he has renewed his request for a trade.  Subsequently, the Cardinals addressed his requests with an emphatic no.  Sources say Boldin is close to walking out of training camp, which would subject him to fines of $15,000/day.  Boldin further claims that lines were crossed with respect to Whisenhunt getting a bit too involved in negotiations.

He says it’s tough to go to work everyday and is very unhappy.

Boldin’s current contract runs out in 3 years, and he is due to make $2.5 million this season.

Last year, Fitz was the #1 receiver in the NFC (1,409 yds, 10 TDs) and was selected to the Pro Bowl.  Boldin was #14 (853 yds, 8 TDs).  Together, the tandem ranks #1 on nine of the ten websites I visited (some moron placed them #4) of all time.  Now, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, tandem means “a group of two … acting in conjunction” (yes, I abbreviated the definition a bit to make my point.  Hey, it’s my blog, so deal with it.)  Ergo, if they are the top WR tandem in the NFL today, then they should be paid commensurately.  No, I’m not saying that Boldin deserves the money that Fitz is making, but he sure deserves to make considerably more than he is now.

Shame on the Cardinals for not recognizing that.  I suppose now Jerheme Urban and Steve Breaston will both get more playing time than they thought. 

boldin10.jpg

(Yes he DOES deserve a big picture!!) 

(Source: KTAR.com, azcentral.com)


Preseason Week 2 – Cardinals 27, Chiefs 17

The Cards had a nice showing in Kansas City this evening, easily beating the Chiefs 27-17.

Kurt Warner got the start, as expected, for about a quarter-and-a-half, going 6-of-9 for 54 yds.  Matt Leinart replaced him midway through quarter 2, going 7-for-11, 62 yds, 1 TD.  Brian St. Pierre also passed for a TD.

Other positives were RB Tim Hightower, 9-for-28 yds and 1 TD on the ground…still vying for that #2 RB position behind Edgerrin James.  WR Steve Breaston and FB Tim Castille each caught a TD as well. 

Defensively, FS Dennis Keyes intercepted backup QB Tyler Thigpen (who replaced Brody Croyle near the end of the first half) and took it 84 yds for a TD, just inside the 2 minute warning.

While the Chiefs did force 3 fumbles, none resulted in turnovers for Arizona.  Additionally, the Cardinals managed to keep the penalties down, committing only 3 for 20 yds, which, I’m sure, made Coach Whisenhunt significantly happier than last weekend.

Neil Rackers uncharacteristically missed an XP, but since it is preseason, I think he can be forgiven.

The team will return to Flagstaff on Monday for the final 4 days of training camp, then back to Phoenix to prepare for next weekend’s game at Oakland (Sat. 8/23) before wrapping up the preseason hosting Denver (Fri. 8/29).

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(WR Steve Breaston)

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(FS Dennis Keyes at UCLA)


Preseason Musings and Notes from Flagstaff

Ultra-patient QB Kurt Warner is likely to get the start in Kansas City Saturday for week 2 of the preseason.  Particularly after sitting out the entire game vs. New Orleans last weekend, I have no doubt that he is excited. 

*   *   *

Injuries:  The Cardinals have a few minor injuries:  DE Darnell Docket (strained pectoral muscle), S Antrel Rolle (ankle), and WR Early Doucet (hamstring), and these players are unlikely to play against the Chiefs.  CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle) did participate in practice, and may play a bit tomorrow.  Finally, LB Monty Beisel was removed from the PUP list and practiced as well.

*   *   *

Update from Training Camp:  Following the minor skirmishes during Wednesday night’s practice in Flagstaff (which I finally attended), things have calmed down a bit, with Coach Whisenhunt saying the abundance of competitiveness (and, no doubt, testosterone) made it “a good practice.” 

So, here are a few (kinda dark) photos from Wednesday night’s practice at Lumberjack Stadium (thanks to hubby for not using the flash….)

hoa-005.jpg     hoa-006.jpg     hoa-009.jpg     hoa-010.jpg

*   *   *

For more information about Saturday’s matchup in Kansas City, check out “Game day from the press box” here.

*   *   *

Well, they are human:  I (finally) took my  13 y/o daughter to see “The Dark Knight” last Wednesday at the local theatre up here.  As we were parking, she pointed out the white buses and the camera crew poised near the exit.  Expressing frustration that the theatre may be closed and she was dying to see the movie, and that life wasn’t fair, I attempted to placate her raging hormones by remarking that the Cardinals were probably seeing a movie, as we were there for the first showing.

As we walked to the door, lo and behold, who should emerge from the theatre, but the Cardinals.  Not wanting to miss such a prime opportunity to embarrass her beyond belief, I started saying such things as “Hi”, “Good game last week”, “Have a great season, guys”, “What did you see?” (one of the guys said they saw “Stepbrothers” and it was just “O.K.”), etc. and pointing out players and spouting stats to her beet-red, mortified, teenaged face.  I even managed to let Fitz know I drafted him in one of my fantasy leagues.

Once we were seated in the theatre, she whispered to me, “OMG, they were, like, TALL!”

(Source: azcardinals.com)


Back in Flagstaff

The Cardinals returned to training camp following their first preseason game, a loss to New Orleans, 24-10; however, a lot of positives came from it.

THE GOOD:

WR Anquan Boldin’s hamstring is better.  He is expected to play against the Chiefs this weekend in the Cards’ 2nd preseason game.

Rookie RB Tim Hightower’s great debut – 5 carries, 23 yds and a TD. 

Rookie CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s awesome defensive moves, even knocking Saints’ TE Mark Campbell out of the game.

WRs Jerheme Urban and Steve Breaston duking it out for the #3 position.  Both had great showings and are likely to contribute to the team despite the depth chart (not too much though, I managed to draft Fitz in one of my fantasy leagues!!)

There were no Arizona injuries in the game.  Definitely a good thing.

Kurt Warner’s attitude pacing the sidelines was very impressive.  We all know he was chomping at the bit to play, but remained the classy gentleman he is knowing that he’ll get his chance soon.

Speaking of QBs, Matt Leinart’s first start since breaking his collarbone last October was impressive.  Leinart finished 7-of-8 for 91 yds, with a 1-yd TD run from Hightower.  Whisenhunt said he looked accurate and controlled with smooth footwork.  (I guess hot tub parties and beer bongs in the offseason helped.)

THE BAD:

S Antrel Rolle got to return a punt as promised by Ken Whisenhunt which he fumbled, but managed to recover for -3 yards.

The fact that I haven’t been able to get to training camp despite the fact that I live about 4 miles from NAU.  With my kids going back to school this week, perhaps I’ll be able to unglue my hands from this keyboard and get over there!!

THE UGLY:

Eight penalties from a team who led the league last season with 137 penalties, an “honor” once reserved for the Oakland Raiders. Three of them were on the Saint’s first drive of the game, leading to threats about starting jobs for certain defensive players if this problem isn’t resolved quickly.

hightowerfolomain.jpg

(Source: azcardinals.com)


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