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12-24-10: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings

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Quick note, I won't post any links tomorrow because it is Christmas. I also don't know how much I will be around tomorrow, but I am going to get the gamethread set up today and it will show up on the main page about an hour before the game.

Warner feels Cardinals' pain but 'made the right decision'
I talked to Kurt Warner this week, so before I go any further, let me get this out of the way: Warner is not coming back to play for the Cardinals or any other NFL team. He likes his version of retirement, whether it means dancing with Russian beauties, selling his life story to Hollywood, creating new iPhone apps, finding new ways for his First Things First Foundation to impact the international community or enjoying time with his wife, Brenda, and their seven kids.

Cards-Cowboys: two teams gone south
Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna was asked Wednesday if life is a little brighter in Dallas these days following a 4-2 run and a victory Sunday over the hated Washington Redskins. "I don't know about that," he said. "Last week went good, but we have pretty high standards around here, so I don't know if anything brightens it up too much." The Cardinals know the feeling. While there's no comparing the spotlights under which these two franchises play – no NFL team compares to the Cowboys – both clubs had much higher expectations when the season started.

Arizona Cardinals looking for more consistency from Calais Campbell
Arizona Cardinals looking for more consistency from Calais Campbell, Notes: Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is looking for defensive end Calais Campbell to establish consistency.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys - scouting report, prediction
Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys - scouting report, prediction, Kent Somers previews Saturday night's game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Injuries, illness and stepping away
Linebacker Joey Porter (tricep) and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring) improved a bit and coach Ken Whisenhunt said he was encouraged by their efforts. "Whether that means they play Saturday, that’ll be tough," Whisenhunt said. The players seem matter-of-fact about their situations — "Can’t do nothing about it," Porter said — although with only two games left, there has to be optimism they can at least return for the San Francisco game, because otherwise, the team might just find another option and put them on injured reserve. - Espo: Cardinals-Cowboys is a white elephant gift
When the NFL lifted the curtain and unveiled the league's schedule back in April, one game stuck out for the Arizona Cardinals, the Dallas Cowboys traveling to University of Phoenix Stadium on Christmas. This was only game of the day and it seemed like a matchup that would have huge playoff implications on a national stage. Fans and the media were taken back to their youth and began anticipating the gifts the game would have to offer. They expected it would a battle of division leaders led by Romo and Leinart. A possible playoff preview between two former rivals that featured two exciting offenses. Instead, fans and the media got to unwrap the ‘gift' this week only to find the NFL equivalent of those socks staring us in the face. Thanks to injuries, questionable personnel decisions, and bad luck for both teams, the only implication the game has is of the draft variety.

In-depth look at NFC West defenses - NFC West Blog - ESPN
I've asked Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information to sift through defensive charting information for performance clues regarding NFC West teams. Among his findings, with my thoughts as well ...

Former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner spreads holiday cheer in Goodyear, New River
If Christmas goodwill were part of football, then retired Arizona Cardinals' quarterback Kurt Warner and his wife, Brenda, teamed up for the perfect sneak play Wednesday by surprising an unsuspecting family with furnishings for their new home in Goodyear.

New-look Phoenix Suns' offense sputters in 95-83 loss to LeBron James, Miami Heat
Whether the full house Thursday at US Airways Center came to see the Suns' midseason makeover debut or Miami Thrice, they were not going to get the full show. For the Suns, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus made their debuts, but Vince Carter did not for his sore knee.

Phoenix Coyotes continue road slump, lose 4-1 against San Jose Sharks
Joe Thornton just figured it was a matter of time before the San Jose Sharks' power play would deliver on a night when the Phoenix Coyotes kept going to the penalty box.

Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi tests positive for banned substance
WNBA standout and former UConn star Diana Taurasi tested positive for a mild stimulant while playing in a pro league in Turkey, her lawyer told The Associated Press on Thursday night.

Video Gallery
Whisenhunt on play calling, injuries and more

Video Gallery
Wolf's Building The Game Plan - Week 16

The Big Red Rage with Wilson and Feely
Jay Feely joins the Big Red Rage with Adrian Wilson, Paul Calvisi, and Ron Wolfley!

Madden 11 Roster Update #17 Details |
The post NFL week 15 roster update for Madden 11 is out now for the 360 and PS3. This will be the last roster update during the regular season with next week off due to the holidays. Roster updates will return throughout the playoffs with the final one coming after the Super Bowl.

Warner Q&A: On Hall, sorry Cards, Fitz, QBs ... and dancing - NFL - Football
It's been 11 months since Kurt Warner announced his retirement from the Arizona Cardinals -- ending an all-too-brief joyride for one of the NFL's most downtrodden franchises. In the four preseason and 14 regular-season games since that jolting January day, the Cards have auditioned four quarterbacks to replace the future Hall of Famer without success and are 4-10 -- somehow out of the playoff picture in the pathetic NFC West heading into a Christmas Day date against the Cowboys. Meanwhile, Warner has transitioned seamlessly and successfully into his new life as a dancer, actor, philanthropist, entrepreneur, television analyst, father and husband.

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Walkthrough: Fox's Fond Farewell
It is time to close look at one of Sunday's most fascinating games, a close contest filled with intrigue and drama and controversial special teams decisions. I refer, of course, to the Panthers' 19-12 win over the Cardinals.

Festivus Is Upon Us; What Are Your Sports Gripes? - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
Some gripes about Arizona sports in honor of the Festivus fake holiday.

Good points on Rams' Sam Bradford - NFC West Blog - ESPN
ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer makes some interesting points regarding St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and why the offense has bogged down in recent weeks. Dilfer, speaking with Bob Stelton of 101ESPN St. Louis, says defenses have figured out Bradford and the Rams' offense, and that Bradford will need some time to adapt. "It's a much steeper hill than people think," Dilfer said. "Teams start defending the quarterback instead of defending the offense. I have full confidence based on how much he has improved that he will figure it out, but it might not be this year. It's hard when teams take away your fastball. ... You have to adapt."

Chat wrap: Cynicism deficit confusing - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Jeremy (Phoenix, AZ): If you are making the franchise decisions for the Cardinals, what do you consider their top three off season priorities and what order do you place them in? As I currently see it: 1. QB. Draft one with the top 5 pick they are likely to get as well as bring in a veteran such as McNabb or Bulger. 2. Defensive coaching staff. Blow up the defensive coaching staff. Everyone goes, start from scratch. New DC, new positional coaches, new scheme, etc. 3. Linebackers. Let the veterans go. Porter, Haggans, and Hayes. After taking a QB in the first round, focusing on drafting LB's to add to Daryl Washington and possibly O'Brien Schofield. It's time for the Cards to have a young LB core with a bright future. Not veterans on the last stop of their careers. It's getting old, pun intended. blogs - Kent Somers - Handing down the keys
Handing over the keys to the Cardinals offense is not easy for coach Ken Whisenhunt, even when the thing is up on blocks, as is the case this season. Whisenhunt loves to call plays, so it's hard to delegate that duty to an assistant, as he did a few weeks ago. Whisenhunt hasn't given up all play calling, but passing game coordinator Mike Miller is doing some of it now. Whisenhunt has downplayed the significance of the change, saying it was the plan all along. He followed a similar path with former offensive coordinator Todd Haley, now the Chiefs' head coach.

Through It All, Campbell Positive
Defensive end's journey helps him deal with inconsistent season

Some Cardinals free-fallin', others learning to fly
Despite being part of one of the worst division races in NFL history, Arizona has struggled to a 4-10 record and has nothing else to look forward to but next season. The Cardinals' 2010 campaign can be summed up by a handful of songs by legendary rocker Tom Petty -- "Free Fallin'", "Even the Losers," "Yer So Bad" and "You Wreck Me," just to name a few.

Promoting a dream
In the end, it’s usually a single line of type in a newspaper, a note at the bottom of the story, a move few notice: A practice squad player getting elevated to the active roster. This time of year, it’s not uncommon although usually it makes little impact on the field. But for the player who is promoted, this is his whole world. Linebacker Curtis Gatewood got that news this week, a promotion in part because Joey Porter’s injury means the probable need for an extra ‘backer against the Cowboys. "It’s a rush, literally and figuratively," Gatewood said. "Something I have been waiting for my whole career. To actually be on a roster says a lot and it is humbling to me. It’s exciting, so many emotions. Ultimately, that’s the goal, to be on a 53-man roster."

Week 16 Friday 10-pack | ProFootballTalk
We realize that the bulk of our traffic comes from folks who check out our offerings while they otherwise would be working. We also realize that not many of you will be working on Friday, since it’s Christmas Eve. But every Friday we post a 10-pack of takes for the coming slate of games, and we can’t quit now simply because plenty of you won’t be around to read what we have to write. So for those of you who are working and/or taking time out of your valuable non-work time to consider our useless facts and arguably even more useless opinions, it’s like you’re in an exclusive club, or something.

Seattle’s Mike Williams doesn’t believe he deserves Comeback Player of the Year | ProFootballTalk
Seattle wide receiver Mike Williams believes you have to establish yourself before you come back from something. That’s why he doesn’t believe he deserves any hardware at the end of the season.

Donovan McNabb's agent blames Shanahans for dispute - ESPN
The simmering feud between Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan and his son continued Thursday with a blistering statement from the quarterback's agent. Fletcher Smith took aim directly at the Washington coach and Kyle Shanahan, the Redskins' offensive coordinator, for the way they have handled the benching of his client. Smith said the bad blood between the quarterback and the Washington coaches is due to McNabb's suggestions for improving the Redskins' offense.

Falcons' Roddy White regrets tweet about Katrina - ESPN
Roddy White regrets sending a tweet referring to Hurricane Katrina. The Atlanta Falcons star isn't backing down from anything else he posted on the popular website.

New York Jets' Mark Sanchez (shoulder) goes slow at practice - ESPN New York
Mark Sanchez will be a game-time decision Sunday, Jets coach Rex Ryan said. The quarterback has a sore shoulder and was limited, throwing only lightly Thursday during practice.

Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson hopes to play this week - ESPN
There are only two games left in the Minnesota Vikings' miserable season and Adrian Peterson is hobbling around with a painful thigh bruise. With the playoffs out of reach, why risk further injury to the team's most dynamic player? Why not sit him for the final two weeks and make sure he is ready to go next season?

Vick joins anti-18-game crowd | ProFootballTalk
As Mike Vick returns to the high profile he enjoyed among fans, media, and players, Vick has acquired more influence. And he’s not afraid to use it. Vick is the latest player to speak out against the expansion of the season from 16 to 18 games.

Shanahan would welcome McNabb back, as a backup | ProFootballTalk
The indignities keep on coming for Donovan McNabb in D.C. He says he wants to return to the team next year, and coach Mike Shanahan is willing to take McNabb up on that. If McNabb is willing to serve as a backup.

DeSean Jackson's punt return TD could have been called back - Shutdown Corner - NFL  - Yahoo! Sports
DeSean Jackson's(notes) goal line grandstanding could have caused his miraculous game-winning punt return to be wiped out, a review of FOX replays show.

Dave Tollefson's mom calls him out in locker room - Shutdown Corner - NFL  - Yahoo! Sports
New York Giants defensive end Dave Tollefson(notes) is one of the bit players on a defensive line that has ranked among the league's best in recent years. A seventh-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2006 out of Northwest Missouri State, Tollefson has worked his way into the Giants rotation and has played in every game but the opener this season. But in last Sunday's thrill ride against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tollefson suffered a knee injury and was taken to the locker room so that the team's medical staff could get a look at the severity of the situation. They shouldn't have bothered. You see, Tollefson's mom, Debra Crocker, was waiting for her son in the locker room, and she made it very clear as to where he should be after traveling 3,000 miles to watch him play.

Panthers vs. Steelers - Recap - December 23, 2010 - NFL - Football -
So close to securing a division title, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't need any tension, drama or surprises after a short week of preparation. The Carolina Panthers certainly couldn't provide any.