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10-27-11: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Fitz And Q, Kolb's Footwork

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Time for todays links, including stuff on Kolb's issues with his footwork and learning the drop patterns in this offense, along with the Cards meeting up with Boldin again and Heap hopefully being able to play against his old team.

Arizona Cardinals News:

Fitz And Q, One More Time
Ravens trip brings receivers back together for first time since trade

Heap Downplays Ravens Reunion
Notebook: Beanie sits out of practice; Kolb analyzes leadership role

Word From the Birds Blog - Beanie sits out of practice
Not surprisingly, running back Beanie Wells sat out practice today with his sore knee. Whether Wells plays Sunday is unknown, but as usual, if he can’t practice all week, playing is a longshot. Having Beanie available or not makes a big difference. The Jaguars were able to topple the Ravens Monday night in large part because of their defense, but also because on offense, they fed Maurice Jones-Drew 30 times to take pressure off quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Beanie could be that guy too, if he could play.

Word From the Birds Blog - Peterson’s improvement
A lot was expected of rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson this season. Frankly, had Greg Toler not gotten hurt, Peterson would not have played as much as he did early (and for all those screaming for him to start right away, the growing pains through which he has played is exactly why the Cardinals’ coaches are hesitant in throwing rookies out there). Did he turn a corner — pun intended — against the Steelers? His job was to cover speedy Mike Wallace and he did pretty well. The big play by Wallace, the 95-yard bomb, it was Richard Marshall and not Peterson on Wallace (and, after watching the replay, it looks like Marshall got caught cheating up and thinking about jumping an underneath route — the intended play to the Steelers fullback Ben Roethlisberger talked about afterward — which was too deadly of a start for Marshall to keep up with Wallace). The rest of the day, Wallace didn’t make much of an impact.

Boldin, Heap and the business of football - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The debate over whether the Arizona Cardinals need a No. 2 receiver should not exist. In a perfect NFL world, Anquan Boldin would have re-signed with the team and finished his career alongside Larry Fitzgerald, giving the Cardinals the league's best 1-2 punch at receiver. In a perfect world, the Cardinals' struggling pass defense would not be bracing for Boldin and the Baltimore Ravens' offense in Week 8.

Re-Focused: Steelers @ Cardinals, Week 7 |
This was the moment he had been waiting for. The opportunity he craved. The chance to show the world he was more than just a backup. Only right now Kevin Kolb (-0.9) is drawing more boos from his own fans, than plaudits given his near complete inability to deal with pressure. The Steelers only generated pressure on 12 of 37 drop backs (though it seemed a lot more given how happy Kolb’s feet were), and it resulted in two sacks, an interception, and numerous overthrows. This doesn’t even include the safety he took when he decided the safest place to run from Lamarr Woodley was his own end zone. The former Eagle just looks incredibly uncomfortable, and while he rallied a late touchdown drive when the Steelers gave him plenty of time in the pocket, it just wasn’t enough. His hidden stat line reads overthrowing four balls, underthrowing four more, and forcing a couple of more for good measure. You wonder if Larry Fitzgerald (+2.2 receiving) realized quite what he was championing in the offseason. blogs - Kent Somers - Beanie Wells not likely to play
I've had questions this morning about Beanie Wells possibly playing Sunday in Baltimore, and about the chances of quarterback Kevin Kolb being replaced. Here is the only light I can shine of the subjects.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Arizona: Beanie Wells missed practice Wednesday and will have to fight through a knee injury if he does play against Baltimore in Week 8. The fact that the Cardinals initially thought Wells suffered a season-ending injury makes returning only one week later seem like a long shot. The Cardinals have not set a timetable for Wells' return. Whether Wells practices Thursday and Friday should tell us plenty about whether the third-year running back plays Sunday. The Cardinals are a much more physical team in the running game when Wells is available. The Ravens rank among the NFL's top three in rushing yards allowed overall and per carry. Tight end Todd Heap's availability is also in question. A hamstring injury continues to slow him. The Cardinals have better depth at the position this season, though. Wells is the key variable.

Cards' blitzing and NFC West pressure stats - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Ray Horton promised the Arizona Cardinals would adopt an aggressive mentality on defense when the team named him its coordinator. The Cardinals have sent five or more pass-rushers on 48.2 percent of plays when opponents attempted a pass or took a sack, easily the highest percentage in the NFC West.

Cardinals O-line did a good job against Pittsburgh -
Much maligned, the Cardinals offensive line has taken quite a bit of criticism this season. Much of it has been deserved, as Kevin Kolb has been sacked 18 times in six games and the running game, while solid, is nothing special. However, as Pro Football Focus points out, the group had a pretty decent game Sunday against Pittsburgh, instead placing much of the blame on the team's quarterback.

Kolb's footwork catching up to Cardinals offense -
According to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb, getting his footwork accustomed to the Cards' offense has been a very delicate act. "It's a fine line you've gotta walk and I'm trying to walk it as fine as I can," Kolb said Wednesday. Apparently, Kolb is used to a standard seven-step drop, hitting his back foot and tossing the ball. But that only works in a team that allows for a quarterback to be consistently in the same spot, like the Eagles, and not the Cardinals, who have encouraged their QBs to be creative, mobile and think on the fly, especially after the Kurt Warner era.

Kevin Kolb says he can handle criticism -
It's the constant battle between pro athletes and the media. Do you listen, watch or read the criticism that's coming your way? Most athletes claim they pay no attention to what we have to say but whether it's true or not, we may never know. Wednesday it was Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb's turn to deny the local media any satisfaction when it came to criticism from us or the fans.

NFL writer calls Whisenhunt 'one of the best' -
It has been a difficult slide for Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Since the Super Bowl appearance in 2008 followed by the 10-6 season in 2009, the Cardinals have won just six of 22 games. The joke around the Valley is that Whisenhunt has taken the place of ASU football head coach Dennis Erickson on the hot seat. But Whisenhunt still has some supporters out there despite the worst start in his tenure with the Cardinals.

Ex-Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin quiet on facing former team
Anquan Boldin never wore all of his emotions on his sleeves, because they wouldn't fit. For most of his seven seasons in Arizona, Boldin was the face of the Cardinals organization, and that face was never disguised. It didn't matter if it was anger, frustration, happiness, Boldin never hid his feelings. That's what made Boldin's conference call with Arizona media Wednesday seem strange. Boldin, who was traded to the Ravens in March 2010, sounded coy when he said playing against his old team Sunday meant nothing special to him.

Arizona Cardinals TE Todd Heap hoping to face former team
Tight end Todd Heap spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the Ravens, so he has looked forward to returning to Baltimore this weekend since signing with the Cardinals last summer. The trip would be even better if Heap can play, something he hasn't done since suffering a hamstring injury three weeks ago. "I'm taking it day to day right now," he said. "I'm hoping I'll be ready."

Heap's return to Charm City in jeopardy -
For Arizona Cardinal fans who tune into Sunday's road game against the Baltimore Ravens, there may be a little feeling of nostalgia. How can you blame them? It'll be the first time that Anquan Boldin, who spent his first seven years in the league in Cardinal red, will play against his former team. But on the other side, it'll be strange for Baltimore faithful to see former Ravens Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap on the field at M&T Bank Stadium wearing colors other than black and purple. That is, if Heap plays.

Cardinals to play against former leader Boldin -
The legend of Anquan Boldin began fairly early. A 2nd round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, "The Quan" was the second receiver taken by the team that April but quickly ascended to folk hero status. That must be what happens when a rookie follows up a good training camp and preseason with a 10-catch, 217-yards, two-touchdown effort in the season opener. You know, his first career NFL game. Boldin went on to finish his rookie season with 101 catches, 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns, the lone bright spot on a team that won three games. The following April netted the team Larry Fitzgerald, and from there the two formed one of the best receiving duos in the NFL.

Sunday will be just another game for Anquan Boldin -
When the Cardinals play in Baltimore on Sunday the team will see a familiar face on the other sideline. Wideout Anquan Boldin played the first seven seasons of his career with the Cardinals before being traded to the Ravens prior to the 2010 campaign, and while this could be looked at as a big game for Boldin the receiver says he is treating this game just like any other.

Cardinals blitz more than any other team in the NFC West -
Even though the Cardinals haven't won in five games and the defense hasn't looked very good in that time, defensive coordinator Ray Horton has come through in one way. Horton promised, when he was hired, that the defense would be more aggressive and the team would blitz on more occasions. According to ESPN's Mike Sando the Cardinals are sending five or more rushers 48.2 percent of the time, more than any other NFC West team. blogs - Kent Somers - Kevin Kolb's next steps
In his Monday press conference, coach Ken Whisenhunt blamed poor footwork as the primary reason for quarterback Kevin Kolb's accuracy problems over the past few games. For example, with proper fundamentals, Whisenhunt said, Kolb would have completed the deep pass to tight end Rob Housler.

Which offenses have improved, regressed - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The 2011 NFL season is far enough along to make fuller statistical comparisons between this season and last. The chart shows how NFC West teams have changed from last season in various offensive statistical categories. The ones marked with red text and underlines stood out to me when putting together the chart. A few thoughts:

Cardinals Underground - BAL Preview
Paul Calvisi, Ron Wolfley, and Darren Urban talk about personnel, potential changes, and the match-up with the Ravens.

Cards Daily - Finding an Answer for Q
The Cardinals will get to face off with former teammate Anquan Boldin for the first time since his departure from the team. Coach Whisenhunt and players talk about facing the receiver and the match up he creates.

Arizona Sports News:

Coyotes' Shane Doan takes 300th goal in stride
Judging by Coyotes captain Shane Doan's demeanor, it would have been difficult to believe he just reached a career milestone. His eyes held disappointment, his posture signaled defeat and when he finished talking about the team and what the team needs to do to be better, he sat at his locker stall with his head in his hands.

NFL News:

Monday Night Upset, DeMarco Murray Carson Palmer Trade And Five Things That Made Week 7 Awesome -
From DeMarco Murray's performance to the massive trade between the Raiders and Bengals, here are the five things that made the seventh week of the 2011 NFL season awesome.

2011 Rams Week 7: Five observations - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Five things I noticed while watching the St. Louis Rams during their 34-7 defeat at Dallas in Week 7:

Dolphins players not fans of Tebow Day | ProFootballTalk
Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano isn’t happy with "sick" fans of the team, who want the won-loss record to be sufficiently bad to secure dibs on Andrew Luck. Fasano and at least one teammate also aren’t happy with the franchise’s decision to celebrate Tebow’s college team during a Dolphins home game. news: No passing fancy: Defenses have adjusted after initial struggles
This has been a season of adjustments. It started with teams learning on the fly during a condensed training camp after the lockout. Then offenses came out more ready and preformed at a record-setting pace to open the season. Now the defenses are starting to figure things out.

Terrell Owens Gets One Contract Offer -
Free agent Terrell Owens conducted a workout on Tuesday that was open to the media but no NFL teams showed up to see where Owens stood on his recovery from a torn ACL six months early. That's not a huge surprise because any team looking to sign him will bring him in for a visit.

The Pros And Cons Of Letting BiBi Jones Help You Gain Twitter Followers - From Our Editors -
New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski had a plan. He was going to boost his Twitter followers in one fell swoop. As anyone knows, the best way to do that is to befriend a porn star, take photos of said porn star wearing your jersey while you stand shirtless next to her, sit back and watch the good times roll. We've all tried it. And that's why everyone knows about BiBi Jones now (or can at least admit to knowing BiBi Jones now). The first question you want answered is...did they? The answer is no, though BiBi Jones did say that she "really, really, really wish it would have happened."

Andre Johnson Injury Update: Gary Kubiak, Johnson Differ On Optimism For Sunday -
Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson has returned to the practice field this week, but shortly after head coach Gary Kubiak expressed optimism about Johnson taking a "huge step" forward, Johnson responded with less optimistic information. According to Johnson, he can make cuts and run his routes without trouble, but he feels some tugging on the hamstring when he tries to open up his stride.

Brian Robison Fined $20,000 For Groin Kick -
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison is a little lighter in the pocketbook after kicking Green Bay Packers lineman T.J. Lang in the groin on Sunday. During a scrum following a field goal attempt, Robison was caught on tape kicking Lang in the groin. Robison was flagged for the incident, and was hit with a $20,000 fine on Tuesday after the league reviewed the incident.

Carlos Rogers Wants Longterm Deal From San Francisco 49ers -
Playing on a one-year deal, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers is interested in signing a long-term extension.

Braylon Edwards Injury: 49ers WR Returns To Practice -
Braylon Edwards hasn't appeared in a game for the San Francisco 49ers since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee injury last month. That seems like it should change this weekend, however, as the wide receiver returned to practice on Tuesday.

Colts Place Kerry Collins On Injured Reserve -
The Kerry Collins era is over (for the 2011 season, at least) as the Colts placed the QB on injured reserve, ending his season.

Asante Samuel: Eagles’ front office "playing fantasy football" | ProFootballTalk
Philadelphia cornerback Asante Samuel said last week that the Eagles don’t want him. Today Samuel got more specific, ripping team president Joe Banner and G.M. Howie Roseman for playing with owner Jeff Lurie’s money.

Andy Reid responds to Asante Samuel’s remarks | ProFootballTalk
The Eagles didn’t trade cornerback Asante Samuel before last week’s deadline. The Eagles probably now wish that they had.

Chris Harris Released By Bears After Benching, Trade Request -
The Chicago Bears released safety Chris Harris on Wednesday completing a roller coaster ride the last few weeks for the 29-year old veteran.