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12-3-11: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Horton's Confidence

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. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)
. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)
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Time for some links as the Cards get ready for the Cowboys, including the increased confidence of Ray Horton in his defense.

Arizona Cardinals News:

Beanie Takes Beating, Keeps Ticking
Notebook: Wells battles through aliments; Defense goes "exotic"

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb's good week has him slated to start
Unless quarterback Kevin Kolb stubs that troublesome big right toe on the end table overnight or some other unexpected trauma to that foot occurs, he and Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt expect him to start Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Arizona Cardinals defense to face challenge against Dallas Cowboys
Defensive improvement is the main reason the Cardinals have won three of the past four games, but they faced just one explosive offense during that time. The stretch included two games against the St. Louis Rams (ranked 30th in total yards), one against the San Francisco 49ers (27th) and one against the Philadelphia Eagles (first until Thursday night's loss to the Seattle Seahawks). That's why the Cardinals defense is viewing Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys (ranked sixth) as potential validation of the strides it has made.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys - scouting report, prediction
Kent Somers takes a look at the key story lines for Sunday's Cardinals-Cowboys game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Word From the Birds Blog - Friday before the Cowboys
With the toe or foot be a problem for Kevin Kolb Sunday? He doesn’t think so. "It won’t hold me down too bad," Kolb said. "I’m sure DeMarcus Ware would probably disagree." Kolb chuckled. "When you are running from fear, you run faster and you don’t worry about your foot." (And it was a joke people. Save the jabs about Kolb and running.) But here we are, to Kolb’s return after more than a month away from a game, with Ware – the NFL’s sack leader — set to face left tackle Levi Brown, who has played better of late, especially when the Cards have run the ball. How will it all wash out? The Cowboys are playing well, but they aren’t the Packers or even the Saints. And the Cards will be at home. Yes, I expect a good amount of Dallas fans. But not the majority. blogs - Kent Somers - Beanie braces up and other notes
Beanie Wells blamed his failures to score on two long runs in St. Louis last week on the knee brace he started wearing the week before in San Francisco. The brace isn't bulky, but it does restrict movement of his knee, Wells said, so a little bit of speed is lost.

Word From the Birds Blog - Kolb set to start and Horton’s "supreme confidence"
It’s been the plan all week, but quarterback Kevin Kolb will start Sunday against the Cowboys — unless something horrible happens, like his big toe swells up while sleeping Saturday night. I don’t think that’s a big concern. Saying that Friday his toe and foot injuries were "the best its felt" since he got hurt, Kolb said "I don’t see any reason it would keep me from playing." Kolb said it was a "huge difference" from a week ago Friday, when he was just getting back to regular practice work.

Word From the Birds Blog - Not enough work for Stephen Williams
Stephen Williams was one of the stars of training camp, 2010. The undrafted Toledo product caught everyone’s eye in Flagstaff and ended up making the roster. He played a little as a rookie too. This year, not so much.

Final Word: NFC West - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Kevin Kolb's return: The Cardinals rank third in the NFL with nine pass completions of at least 40 yards. Kolb, making his return Sunday after missing a month with toe and foot injuries, has accounted for six of those big plays. He'll be facing a Cowboys defense that has allowed only three pass plays of 40-plus yards, second-fewest in the league. The quarterback metrics favor Dallas all the way. The Cowboys rank second only to Green Bay with a plus-27.6 differential in Total QBR gained (72.4) and allowed (44.8). The Cardinals rank third from the bottom in that category (32.4 gained, 58.5 allowed). On the positive side for Kolb, he gets four home games over the final five weeks, ample time to leave a positive impression.

What Kevin Kolb faces upon his return - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Kevin Kolb's expected return to the Arizona Cardinals' lineup comes as the team prepares to face teams with relatively strong pass defenses. The chart shows the defensive rankings for the Cardinals' remaining opponents in yards per game, passing yards per play, interception rate, sacks per pass attempt, third-down percentage, points per game, NFL passer rating allowed and Total QBR allowed.

Cardinals, Cowboys share plenty of history -
The Cardinals and Cowboys renew their long rivalry Sunday, one that dates back further than most fans remember.

Ray Horton has 'supreme confidence' in D -
The defense has been a work in progress under new coordinator Ray Horton this season, but with each week you can see their confidence growing along with their scheme.

Wells' toughness makes him a better back -
In his third NFL season, Beanie Wells is running like the type of back the Cardinals were expecting when they took him in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft. After Wells' struggles with injuries and running the ball last season, some were starting to worry the former Ohio State star would never develop. ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski credits Wells' improvement to a more comfortable style of running and a tougher mentality.

XTRA910 audio: NFC West Week 13 - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Kevin Kolb's return to the Arizona Cardinals' lineup was among the subjects Mike Jurecki and I covered during our weekly Friday conversation on XTRA Sports 910 AM in Phoenix.

NFC West game changers (almost forgot) - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The weekly item breaking out the most pivotal plays from NFC West games would normally appear by Tuesday. All these Thursday night games must be throwing off my internal clock. Patrick Peterson's 80-yard touchdown on a punt return for Arizona against St. Louis ranked third on the list for Week 12. The play seemed more pivotal than the 17.1 percent shift in win probability would suggest. That could be because those of us watching knew the Rams' limitations on offense would make it tougher for them to rebound.

Individual Records, Team Pride
RB Beanie Wells established the Cardinals franchise record for single game rushing yards (228) and Patrick Peterson tied the NFL record for most punt return TD's in a season (4). However the entire team takes pride in their huge individual performances. Jody Jackson reports.

Tired of Toe Talk, Kolb Ready to Return
Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb is excited to deal with opposing defenses instead of an ailing toe. Kolb is expected to make his return to action against the Dallas Cowboys. Paul Calvisi has the story.

Cards Daily - Corralling the Cowboys Offense
The Cardinals defense has really improved their play as of late but will have their hands full with the Dallas offense and all of its weapons.

Arizona Sports News:

ASU ends pursuit of Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin
Arizona State's search for a football coach, which focused on Houston's Kevin Sumlin, detoured off in another direction Friday night. A source confirmed that the Sun Devils have withdrawn their pursuit of Sumlin, believed to be the top target in their quest to replace coach Dennis Erickson, who was fired Monday. Internet reports surfaced early Friday that ASU president Michael Crow, along with top athletic officials Lisa Love and Steve Patterson, had planned to travel to Houston to talk with Sumlin after Saturday's Conference USA Championship game. Texas A&M's decision on Thursday to fire coach Mike Sherman likely altered the plan.

NFL News:

Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 31, Eagles 14 - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 31-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field:

Chargers Will Fire Norv Turner, Possibly A.J. Smith At Season's End, According To Report -
The San Diego Chargers will reportedly fire head coach Norv Turner at the end of the season. They are also likely to fire GM A.J. Smith according to a recent report.

Donovan McNabb Goes Unclaimed Off Waiver Wire, According To Report -
After the Minnesota Vikings released Donovan McNabb there was a thought that a few teams might be interested in his services as he hit the waiver wire including the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and Houston Texans. As it turns out, nobody wanted him. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, McNabb was not claimed off the waiver wire.

Ndamukong Suh's Appeal Of Suspension Is Denied -
On Thanksgiving day, Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh was ejected from the game against the Green Bay Packers for stomping on a Packers offensive linemen. Because Suh has a history with personal fouls and fines, we expected a suspension and that's exactly what the NFL did suspending Suh for two games. He appealed his suspension this week with Art Shell, who was jointly appointed by the players and the league, and that appeal has been denied, according to the Lions website.

PHOTO: Rolando McClain Smiling During Arrest, May Think He's Been Traded - From Our Editors -
Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain was arrested Thursday for letting one fly in Decatur, Alabama. Most people are sad when they get arrested. This Decatur Daily photo by John Godbey, however, suggests someone just told him he doesn't have to play for the Raiders any more:

NFC West cleaned up on Eagles this season - NFC West Blog - ESPN
NFC West teams have gone 3-1 against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011. That's something most of us wouldn't have anticipated heading into the season. Dan Graziano's piece on the NFC East blog looks at how that division has fared against the NFC West this season. The Arizona Cardinals' home game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys stands as the last game between the divisions. The Cowboys are 3-0 against the NFC West.

Andy Reid upset with NFL Network’s coverage of Desean Jackson | ProFootballTalk
Eagles coach isn’t upset with DeSean Jackson. He’s upset with how NFL Network portrayed Jackson during Thursday night’s game. Reid said at his Friday press conference that he was "very, very disappointed" with the network’s coverage.

Kansas City Chiefs Employ Buddy System To Thwart Mountain Lion Attack - From Our Editors -
I don't even know what to think of the Kansas City Chiefs' season anymore. Todd Haley went to see Lil Wayne, their quarterback is Tyler Palko and everything has been all sorts of weird. But nothing is as weird as this story.

Your Regularly Scheduled Reminder That Being A Pro Athlete Is Awesome - From Our Editors -
First Marshawn Lynch gets spotted eating Skittles on the sideline during a game. Then this happens:

Charles Haley cited for slapping a woman on the buttocks | ProFootballTalk
As former NFL defensive end Charles Haley moves closer to another opportunity to enter the Hall of Fame, his name is in the news for the wrong reasons.