When the Cardinals' Pro Bowl Cornerback - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie- left Sunday's game with what was thought of to be a torn knee ligament, a sense of shock and apprehension spiraled through the hearts of both the Cardinals and their fans.
Rodgers-Cromartie had just finished chasing Jermichael Finley when he awkwardly rolled over Finley's cleat, both injuring his knee, and opening a wound. After the medical staff attended to DRC, he was carted off the field, and that play alone would summarize the day for the rest of the team.
In his shoes stood diminutive Michael Adams who was victimized immediately and repeatedly, with career-back up Ralph Brown and rookie cornerback Greg Toler shoring up the secondary. Adams, despite his admirable tenacity on the field, cannot out-leap most NFL receivers and certainly not Donald Driver or Greg Jennings as yesterday proved. Brown is at-best a nickel DB and can't cover the premiere receivers in the NFL. Toler is still a work-in-progress and that showed when he was outmaneuvered in the end zone by Finley. With the Packers 8th ranked passing offense and 30 passing touchdowns(2nd) coming back to Glendale this Sunday, it's fair to assume the Cardinals knew they were in trouble when DRC went down.
But, the initial reaction was premature, and Rodgers-Cromartie was walking gingerly after the game. When asked about his status for next week's wild card game, DRC responded, "I'm playing ball".
Ken Whisenhunt's decision to play the starters through a portion of the game was a risk/reward plan. On one end you keep the Cardinals in action, and avoid potential rust. Then there's the fact that a star player can get hurt on any given play, and in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's case, he was the latter.
With roughly a week left to prepare for the game, the Cardinals and Rodgers-Cromartie must focus on getting back to 100%. Cromartie has shown signs of brilliancy this season, thus his recognition in the Pro Bowl voting. When healthy, he's been a valuable asset to the defense. He finished the season with 25 passes defensed(2nd), 3 FF(2nd for defensive backs), and 6 interceptions(2nd). I can't fault Whisenhunt for playing DRC in a meaningless game, as it was within the first two minutes and nobody can predict what will happen on the field. The playoffs are fast approaching - get well DRC.