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11-11-10: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings

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Many Happy Returns
Cards have scored eight quick-change touchdowns in eight games

Anderson's Comfort Level
Sometimes, Derek Anderson said, a play sheet for a particular game can "get out of control." The Cardinals have been careful not to let that happen of late, and make sure that sheet is filled with plays the Cards’ offense – and Anderson in particular – is more comfortable running. The result was, for the most part, effective and definitely Anderson’s most efficient performance of the season.

Midseason Stock Watch: Cardinals - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Where they stand: The Cardinals are 3-5, one game behind NFC West leaders St. Louis and Seattle. The road victory they own over the Rams could come in handy as a tiebreaker if the division race remains close. The Cardinals have arguably lost only one game -- against Tampa Bay at home -- that would have qualified before the season as a likely victory. But the team's failure to acquire or develop a quality quarterback has made this season feel like an overall failure. Return touchdowns against New Orleans and Oakland helped the Cardinals beat those opponents and stay competitive in the division. Teams generally cannot bank on such plays, but Arizona is proving otherwise. The team has an NFL-leading eight return touchdowns this season.

Beanie sits again
The Cardinals had a banged-up crew out for Wednesday’s practice. Running back Beanie Wells sat because of ongoing swelling issues. Linebackers Clark Haggans (groin) and Paris Lenon (ankle) also sat out, and it wasn’t a great day for the defense, since linebackers Joey Porter (knee) and Will Davis (knee), defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (shoulder) and safety Kerry Rhodes (hand) were also limited. blogs - Kent Somers - Wednesday practice notes
Running back Beanie Wells continues to be hampered by swelling in his right knee and missed practice Wednesday. Wells said the knee is better than last week, when he missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and barely played in the Vikings game. I asked Wells if he thought he had to practice Thursday in order to play much on Sunday. "That's a tough question," Wells said. "I don't think I have practice to be out there playing a lot more than I played last week." blogs - Kent Somers - What is in the sacks?
The Vikings sacked Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson six times last Sunday, including four times in the final two possessions. The Cardinals have yielded 28 sacks this season. Only the Bears (32) have more. - Tillman will get Hall of Fame on-campus salute against Stanford
Arizona State University, The National Football Foundation & The College Hall of Fame will jointly honor the late Pat Tillman this Saturday, Nov. 13 with an NFF Hall of Fame on-campus salute as the Sun Devils host Stanford in Tempe. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. - Cardinals midseason report card: Defense
During training camp it was observed just how dominant the Cardinals defense looked. Disrupting the passing game, stuffing the run, there was hope that the unit could be good enough to carry a team, with playmakers like Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie, Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson and Calais Campbell returning, as well as newcomers Joey Porter, Kerry Rhodes and rookies Dan Williams and Daryl Washington. However, during the preseason the defense started to show some holes, and through eight games it is becoming more apparent that the reason they looked so great in August is because of how bad the offense is. Still, there have been bright spots through the first half of the season. - Cardinals' Wells misses practice Wednesday
Running back Beanie Wells missed practice Wednesday for the Arizona Cardinals. The running back is still suffering from a swollen right knee, the same issue that kept him out of practice last week. The swelling, caused by an allergic reaction to an injection, also held Wells to only one carry against the Minnesota Vikings.

Arizona Cardinals' quarterback protection must improve
Protecting the quarterback requires a lot of moving parts, and at times this season the Cardinals' mechanism has seized up like an engine that's out of oil. The Chargers had nine sacks in an October victory, tied for second most ever by a Cardinals opponent. Last Sunday, the Vikings had six in an overtime win. Through the first half of the season, the Cardinals have yielded 28 sacks, two more than year's season total, equal to all of 2008, and four more than 2007. They are on pace to finish with the third-highest total in team history.

Derek Anderson Has Teammates Rallying Behind Starting Quarterback -- NFL FanHouse
The Cardinals ended 2009 with Kurt Warner as their quarterback, started training camp with Matt Leinart at the helm, started the season with Derek Anderson behind center, moved to Max Hall and are back with Anderson. So to say the rest of the Arizona offense has had to be flexible is something of an understatement.

Mailbag: Questioning Cardinals' chances - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Mahmoud from Chicago writes: Love your blog, Mike. I read it every day to get my Niners and NFC West fix. This my first time commenting and it's because I'm shocked at your belief that the Arizona Cardinals will win the division. They are 3-5 and you could easily make a case for them deserving to be 0-8 (Steve Breaston game-saving forced fumble, Sebastian Janikowski missing a gimme field goal, Saints choke job). Plus, they have one of the worst quarterback situations in the league, no run game and a very average defense. Their special teams are the only part of the team performing well. I'd like to hear how they could possibly win another game, let alone the division.

Avoiding kickoff returners?
Two of the best kickoff returners in the league will match up Sunday in the Cardinals-Seahawks game. Seattle’s Leon Washington leads the NFL with 31.4 yards per return, while LaRod Stephens-Howling is sixth in average (27.9) and has the most total yardage (1,060). Each has two touchdowns. Each have emerged as dangerous weapons for teams that have not had a lot of consistent offensive success. - Small, shy Cardinal overcomes the odds in NFL
LaRod Stephens-Howling has defied the odds throughout his football career, overcoming his size deficiency with speed, smarts and skill. Listed somewhat optimistically at 5-foot-7 and 185 pounds, the 2009 seventh-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh has emerged as one of the most dangerous kickoff returners in the NFL. - Whisenhunt defends offensive line, still optimistic
Much of the criticism surrounding the Arizona Cardinals has centered around their quarterback play. However, many have placed the blame on the team's offensive line giving up sacks and not allowing either Derek Anderson or Max Hall enough time to read defenses and throw the ball down the field. Coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn't buy into these charges.

Phoenix Coyotes edge Chicago Blackhawks with strong game by backup goalie Jason LaBarbera
Kyle Turris and Wojtek Wolski scored 35 seconds apart in the second period and backup Jason LaBarbera made 35 saves in the Phoenix Coyotes' 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. blogs - Coro's Orange Slices - PaulCoro - Nash bash on dash trash
Four losses have rarely set off such trade speculation. The idea of Steve Nash being traded at some point this season has turned rampant. The notion was lurking and apparently a 3-4 Suns start has been just enough for several national writers to pontificate on the idea, although nobody has reported any actual trade talk. But even floating the idea is new for Nash to hear during this 6 1/2-year run in Phoenix.

Week 10 Roster and Ratings Update : Madden NFL 11 News : EA SPORTS
It's been another busy week of transactions and rating adjustments in the NFL. Here are a few of the highlights:

(A lot of people on the team went down this week...)

Cardinals Underground Podcast (SEA Preview)
Paul Calvisi, Darren Urban, and Ron Wolfley take a look at the upcoming NFC West match-up with Seattle and more!

Whis on Seattle's QB; Anderson on Cards offense

NFC West QBs coming up short (not deep) - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Tre9er asked via Twitter for passing stats by how far the ball traveled downfield before reaching its intended target.

NFL Week 10 Fantasy Football Round Up: Arizona Cardinals Vs. Seattle Seahawks - SB Nation Arizona
Who to play and who to sit from this week's Cards-Seahawks game.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Arizona: Beanie Wells continues to miss practice time with swelling in his surgically repaired knee, never a good sign. The Cardinals attributed swelling last week to an allergic reaction Wells suffered in response to medication designed to support joint lubrication. Intermittent swelling following arthroscopic surgery comes as no surprise, ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell said. "If the joint is irritated and the purpose of the medication is to soothe it, then they now have one fewer tool in the armory," Bell said. In the bigger picture, Wells has suffered from quite a few lower-extremity injuries, one reason some teams passed on him in the draft. On defense, the Cardinals are giving veterans Darnell Dockett and Joey Porter some rest this week. Outside linebacker Clark Haggans could return this week, but he is not yet practicing.

Our 'Experts' Unveil Their NFL Week 10 Picks Against The Spread, Vegas Cowers - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
It's that time once again for the smartest 11 people in sports (plus a really lucky quarter) to put our collective wisdom against the Vegas odds makers. We looked at the NFL Week 10 schedule and made our picks against the spread.

Chad Pennington to replace Chad Henne as Dolphins starting QB - NFL -
Chad Pennington is replacing Chad Henne as the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback.

Midseason Stock Watch: 49ers - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Where they stand: The 49ers are last in the NFC West with a 2-6 record. They preached offensive continuity all offseason, only to fire coordinator Jimmy Raye after three games. Quarterback Alex Smith hasn't played to expectations and neither has his restocked line. A weak and unsettled division does give the 49ers hope, however. San Francisco still has five division games remaining. The 49ers were 5-1 in the NFC West last season and it's not as if any other team is going to run away with the division title. The 49ers have gone 2-1 since president Jed York guaranteed a division title following an 0-5 start.

Midseason Stock Watch: Seahawks - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Where they stand: The Seahawks are tied with St. Louis atop the NFC West with a 4-4 record. The Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker pending their rematch in Week 17. Seattle was an ascending team until injuries wiped out five starters on the offensive and defensive lines, plus quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and a few others. The Seahawks still have a chance to steady themselves once Hasselbeck and left tackle Russell Okung return. Both could be back against Arizona this week. But the defense will have a hard time recapturing top form against the run without defensive end Red Bryant (injured reserve) and nose tackle Colin Cole (out indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain). The Seahawks are on shaky ground after getting outscored 74-10 over their past two games.

Midseason Stock Watch: Rams - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Where they stand: The Rams are 4-4 and leading the NFC West. They hold the tiebreaker over 4-4 Seattle after beating the Seahawks in Week 4. The Rams have used improved quarterback play, a better-than-expected defensive front and a favorable schedule to win more games at the midpoint than they won in the full 2008 and 2009 seasons combined. The Rams are building toward a brighter future while competing for a playoff spot in the present. They've been the most consistent team in the division. They have the NFL's 10th-ranked defense and a quarterback to build around in rookie Sam Bradford.

Shaun Hill named starter for Lions against Bills - NFL -
Shaun Hill is back as Detroit's starting quarterback after another injury to Matthew Stafford.

Bills' Shawne Merriman limps off field during first practice - NFL -
Linebacker Shawne Merriman's first practice with his new team in Buffalo didn't last very long. news: Falcons, Ravens among teams in position for strong finishes
Back in 2005, Jim Mora's Atlanta Falcons jumped to a 6-2 record at the halfway point of the season, seemingly delivering on the promise set forth the year before when they advanced to the NFC title game. Then, in Week 10, a journeyman running back named Samkon Gado and the reeling Green Bay Packers stunned the Falcons 33-25. From that point, Atlanta paved the path for what Josh McDaniels' Broncos did in 2009, finishing 2-6 and out of the playoffs. We've seen the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Falcons, Bears, Titans, Giants, and a few other teams start quickly. Can they maintain? And who's lying in the weeds?

Analysis: Players say privately that Vikings are team in turmoil with Brad Childress in charge -
In January 2006, still stinging from the infamous Love Boat scandal, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf hired Brad Childress to clean up his dysfunctional organization. One of eight NFL owners with a head coaching vacancy that offseason, Wilf was enamored of Childress' pedigree — Childress had been offensive coordinator at the University of Wisconsin and with the Philadelphia Eagles — and he quickly signed Childress to a five-year contract. "He embodies class, character, discipline and is a great family man," Wilf said at the time. "Bottom line: Brad Childress is a winner." And yet, the Vikings' circus atmosphere is back. And Childress is the ringleader.

Will Vick be an Eagle in 2011? Andy Reid hasn't thought about it |
Eagles coach Andy Reid has waffled several times this year about his quarterback situation, at various times anointing Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick as his starter. So if Reid can't even make a firm decision about his quarterback this year, it's not surprising that he can't decide who his quarterback will be next year.

The 2011 NFL Lockout: When America Descended Into Madness -
The year is 2013, and it's finally time to look back at the dreaded NFL Lockout of 2011. Here is a collection of writings, conversations, and other documents from NFL players and the American public as the hysteria worsened.

NFL boasts most-watched season ever | ProFootballTalk
It seems that every week, there’s a new reason for the NFL to brag about its incredible TV ratings.

The Hot Read: Drama! Parity! Officiating! Assessing The NFL's Big Picture At Midseason -
Putting the standings and the individual awards aside, Michael Tunison takes a look at how the NFL as a whole is performing through the first half of the season.

Thursday night games could become a labor sticking point | ProFootballTalk
As the NFL and the NFL Players Association continue to draw battle lines for an all-out labor war that really hasn’t gotten started yet because not much negotiation has occurred, another potential sticking point is creeping onto the radar screen. Thursday night football.

Marcus Benard, Browns linebacker, collapses in locker room - NFL -
Cleveland Browns linebacker Marcus Benard has been taken to a hospital after collapsing in the locker room.

Panthers name Jimmy Clausen starter against Buccaneers - NFL -
Jimmy Clausen will get another chance behind center for the Carolina Panthers.

Browns' Colt McCoy in line for start against Jets - NFL -
Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy is getting the majority of snaps at practice and is likely to start Sunday against the New York Jets.

Troy Smith will start for Niners against Rams - NFL -
Troy Smith has never much cared what people thought of his size, shaking off those skeptics who called him too small to be an NFL quarterback.

Redskins' Donovan McNabb still not close to full speed - NFL -
Donovan McNabb is still hampered by sore hamstrings as he prepares for his first start since he was benched late in a game by coach Mike Shanahan. news: Foot sprain not expected to keep Patriots' Brady out Sunday
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady returned to practice Thursday, a day after what has been described as a mild foot sprain kept him out of practice, the Boston Herald reports. news: Falcons' Ryan cream of talented young crop of NFL QBs
Baltimore's Joe Flacco has the big arm. Detroit's Matthew Stafford has tremendous upside, except for durability concerns. The Jets' Mark Sanchez can improvise. Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman, he has it all, except for experience. Atlanta's Matt Ryan is the most complete of the lot.