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12-15-11: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Kolb Trying To Return

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Time for some links, with an update on Kolb trying to practice so he can play this week after getting a concussion last week.

Arizona Cardinals News:

Kolb Careful With Concussion
Notebook: Rhodes practices full for first time since October

Arizona Cardinals Kevin Kolb deliberate in his return after suffering concussion vs. San Francisco 49ers
From head to toe, there probably is not a part of Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb that isn't sick of being asked about his head and toe. After a month's worth of focus on a turf toe, the attention now is on Kolb's head. He suffered a concussion on the third offensive play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, an injury that could cause him to miss Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns. Kolb said it was "beyond frustrating" to suffer the injury after missing four games because of a foot injury that included turf toe, and after he played well in the second half of a victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 4.

Defense Has Its Moment
Learning isn't over, but Horton's scheme has settled in nicely

Browns coach Pat Shurmur: Cardinals' defense has similar feel to Steelers
For most of the past five seasons, the Cardinals wanted their defense to look like that of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They finally might have accomplished it. As members of the AFC North, the Cleveland Browns play the Steelers twice a year and faced them last Thursday. Coach Pat Shurmur said the Cardinals look similar to the Steelers "schematically," which is a good thing for the Cardinals. "If you're going to have a defense that you want to be similar to, it's hard to beat that," he said.

Kolb practices 'a little bit' after concussion -
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb said he was able to practice ``a little bit'' on Wednesday after tests evaluating the concussion he sustained early in Sunday's victory over San Francisco. ``The symptoms are down,'' he said. ``It's just a matter of making sure they are down long enough to where I can get out there and then be in full-speed action. That's the key right now. It's a touchy subject, and we want to make sure that we err on the right side.'' Unlike the situation with the Cleveland Browns and their quarterback, Colt McCoy, the Cardinals benched Kolb after he took a knee to the head on Arizona's third offensive play against the 49ers. He immediately went to the locker room for evaluation and it was determined he should not return to the game.

Where NFC West teams rank: Week 14 - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The Arizona Cardinals climbed four spots in passing yards allowed per play, four in Total QBR allowed and three in sacks per pass attempt. They dropped six spots in takeaways, beating the 49ers despite losing the turnover battle. They climbed two more spots to No. 3 in third-down conversion rate allowed. Since Week 9, the Cardinals have improved seven spots in yards allowed, eight in yards per pass attempt allowed, six in sacks per pass attempt, five in red zone touchdown percentage allowed, 10 in passer rating allowed, seven in QBR allowed, five in takeaways and five in points allowed.

NFC West injury situations that matter - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Arizona: Kevin Kolb's concussion symptoms have cleared, allowing him to resume practicing with the team Wednesday. Kolb told reporters he plans to take things slowly at first, adding reps each day before starting against Cleveland. This news was about as good as the Cardinals could have expected. The Cardinals are relatively healthy overall. Free safety Kerry Rhodes, recovered from a broken foot, is practicing without limitation. It's unclear how the Cardinals will work him back into the secondary rotation. Strong safety Adrian Wilson and the defense in general are playing better now than when Rhodes was injured. Several other players are working through nagging injuries, including Beanie Wells (knee) and Clark Haggans (hamstring).

Arizona Cardinals lead NFL in big plays
The Cardinals lead the NFL with nine touchdowns of at least 50 yards, one more than the Packers. That suggests that the team has done a great job of throwing deep, something it couldn't do it all last season. But a look at how the Cardinals have scored those touchdowns puts a different spin on the story. Four of those scores came via punt returns by Patrick Peterson, who has touchdowns of 99, 89, 82 and 80 yards. The other five touchdowns from plus 50 have been passes. Only one, a 73-yarder by Larry Fitzgerald against the Redskins, was truly a deep pass.

Cardinals Underground - CLE Preview
Paul Calvisi, Darren Urban, and Ron Wolfley talk about the Cardinals defense, the QB situation, and the Cleveland Browns match-up.

Cards Daily - Kolb Limited as CLE Prep Begins
The Cardinals begin preparations for the Cleveland Browns with an emphasis on starting fast. QB Kevin Kolb returned to the field on a limited basis.

Arizona Sports News:

Coyotes fall to Ducks for third consecutive loss
Niklas Hagman scored two goals, Jonas Hiller made 19 saves and the Anaheim Ducks earned their second win in six games under new coach Bruce Boudreau, 4-1 over the slumping Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night.

ASU to hire Todd Graham as football coach
Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham will be Arizona State's next coach. Graham, 47, was in his first season at Pitt, where he guided the Panthers to a 6-6 record and a spot in the BBVA Compass Bowl where they will play SMU. This would be Graham's fourth stop since 2006. In 2006, Graham led Rice to a 7-6 record (the Owls were 1-10 the season before.) He spent the next four seasons at Tulsa, going 36-17 with three bowl appearances, which included one 11-win season. He also worked on Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez's staff at West Virginia.

ASU football statement on hiring of Todd Graham as football coach
Arizona State University has named Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham, who led Rice to its first bowl victory in 45 seasons in 2006 and then led Tulsa to back-to-back 10-plus win seasons for the first time in school history in 2007 and 2008, as its 23rd football coach, Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love and Chief Operating Officer Steve Patterson have announced.

Pittsburgh players upset with Todd Graham's bolt for ASU
Seven days ago, Pitt receiver Devin Street sat down to discuss his future with football coach Todd Graham. "He told me he's here to stay," Street said. "He said he wanted to make me the best player he can. "It's all a lie. It's been all a lie this whole time. Everything he told us has been a lie." Graham announced Wednesday morning to the team via text message through assistant athletic directors Blair Philbrick and Chris LaSala that he had quit to take the head coaching at Arizona State. He's gone after only 11 months and 12 games on the Pitt sideline.

ASU defensive coordinator Craig Bray: Defense didn't do the job
Always demanding of his players, Craig Bray is no less so of himself. So it's difficult for the Arizona State defensive coordinator to live with a collapse on his side of the ball in the final third of the season that led to coach Dennis Erickson being fired.

NFL News:

Update: RB contract situations in NFC West - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The chart shows contract information for NFC West running backs. Salary figures sometimes change based on incentives.

2012 draft order through Week 14 (top 15) - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Teams with between seven and nine victories last season selected 14th through 18th in the 2011 NFL draft. The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals could be headed for that range in 2012. Both teams have rallied from slow starts to reach 6-7 heading into Week 15. Both teams gained ground in the standings while losing ground in draft order following victories last week. The chart, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, shows current projected 2012 draft order for all teams with non-winning records. The fourth column shows the number of spots gained or lost from last week.

2012 Pro Bowl fan balloting: Updated ranks - NFC West Blog - ESPN
A quick run through which NFC West players rank among the top five at their positions:

NFL Week 14, Best And Worst: Rob Gronkowski Is A Record Breaker -
From Rob Gronkwoski's record setting touchdown (and overall performance) to Marion Barber's costly fumble, here's the best and the worst from Week 14 of the 2011 NFL season.

Tim Tebow Getting Closer To Being Broncos 2012 Starting QB -
Tim Tebow is 7-1 as a starter this year and has engineered six fourth-quarter comebacks in his first 11 starts, but Broncos coach John Fox is still reluctant to name his starter in 2012.

Romeo Crennel Will Make QB Change; Kyle Orton Will Start If Healthy -
Romeo Crennel says a change at quarterback is coming in Kansas City, but he doesn't know what it will be yet.

Jim Caldwell Expected To Be Fired If Colts Go Winless -
The Colts are expected to part ways with head coach Jim Caldwell is the team doesn't win a game this season.

Thanksgiving night football moves to NBC in 2012 | ProFootballTalk
Plenty of details regarding the new TV packages will emerge in the coming hours. Here’s one of my favorites.

NFL Network likely to add more Thursday night games | ProFootballTalk
We’ve already pointed out that the NFL’s new TV deals give NBC the annual Thanksgiving night game, which has traditionally been the first NFL Network game of each season. But that doesn’t mean NFL Network will have fewer Thursday night games in the future.