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12-31-11: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Getting Ready For Seattle

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Time for todays links, which look at Horton's thoughts on the defense and some injury reports.

Arizona Cardinals News:

Turnovers Top Horton To-Do List
Notebook: DC calls Marshall "my MVP"; Corners ready for 2012

Arizona Cardinals current defense 'light years ahead' of early-season version
The Cardinals' defensive game plan against the Seahawks in Week 3 was rudimentary compared with the schemes coordinator Ray Horton is calling more than three months later. "We played almost nothing in that game; I didn't think we could," Horton said. "And now we have, I'd say probably 90 percent of our stuff in and it's available and called. "On my call sheet, there is only one play I'm not going to call, definitely, and the rest is available. So we are light years ahead." The Cardinals played well defensively in the 13-10 loss to Seattle, but the Seahawks offense was dealing with numerous injuries at the time. The Seahawks gained just 261 total yards and scored one touchdown. But the Cardinals forced only one turnover, a problem throughout the season. The Cardinals have just nine interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Improving upon that is one of Horton's goals for next season.

Arizona Cardinals' 2012 schedule, draft position becoming clearer
The Cardinals' 2012 schedule looks like this:

Arizona Cardinals look for 8-8 vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Arizona Cardinals can finish 8-8 with a win vs. the Seattle Seahawks and Patrick Peterson is close to an NFL record. CineSport's Noah Coslov and The Arizona Republic's Kent Somers discuss.

Word From the Birds Blog - Peterson works, Wilson cleared, and some awards
Cornerback Patrick Peterson did do some work in practice Friday and will be worked out before Sunday’s game to determine if he can play coming off the Achilles injury. He’s said all week he wants to be smart; I think this will truly come down to how Peterson feels Sunday. Quarterback Kevin Kolb is apparently in the same boat, technically, but he remains stuck with concussion symptoms and, other than coach Ken Whisenhunt declining to declare Kolb out officially, conventional wisdom says Kolb won’t be in there. Safety Kerry Rhodes (ankle) is still sore. His status figures to be a game-day decision too.

Word From the Birds Blog - Friday before the Seahawks
The last week of the season – in a playoff-less year – is always so strange. The grind is the same all week, just like every other week. Then the game happens Sunday, and you can almost hear the squeal of the brakes as everything comes to an abrupt halt. blogs - Kent Somers - Interpreting the injury update
Cornerback Patrick Peterson (Achilles) practiced on a limited basis on Friday and his status for Sunday's game against Seattle will be determined in the hours before game time. From what I can gather, this is a real "game-day decision" scenario. My guess is that if Peterson plays, his time will be limited. Quarterback Kevin Kolb has not been ruled out, but coach Ken Whisenhunt said Kolb is still experiencing concussion symptoms. If he has not had symptoms for a few days and feels good Sunday, then the Cardinals will have a decision to make. That's the company line.

Final Word: NFC West - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Draft order disorder. Every NFC West team but San Francisco faces a potential significant shift in draft order based on Week 17 results. The St. Louis Rams will emerge with the No. 1 overall pick if they lose to the 49ers while Indianapolis defeats Jacksonville. The Colts will pick first if they lose, or if the Rams win. The winner between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks will finish 8-8 instead of 7-9, producing likely a swing of several spots in the order. The 7-9 team with the easiest strength of schedule will pick ninth. The 8-8 team with the strongest strength of schedule would pick 20th.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks - scouting report, prediction
Kent Somers takes a look at the key story lines for Sunday's Cardinals-Seahawks game.

Smith, Skelton, Kolb and comeback QBs - NFC West Blog - ESPN
There can be no fourth-quarter comeback victories in football without a team first falling behind. That partly explains why Drew Brees (three), Tom Brady (one) and Aaron Rodgers (zero) have combined for fewer of them than either Alex Smith (five) or John Skelton (four). Still, tis better to come back and win than to lose quietly. Smith, Skelton, Kevin Kolb (two), Sam Bradford (one) and Charlie Whitehurst (one) own fourth-quarter comeback victories for NFC West teams in 2011. The Cardinals lead the NFL with six.

Browner vs. Fitzgerald is a matchup to watch -
The Seahawks' and Cardinals' elimination from playoff contention has raised questions about each team's motivation heading into their Week 17 matchup. Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals aren't likely to find any in the form of trash talk from Brandon Browner.

Cardinals' Ray Horton assesses defense -
It's no secret that the Arizona Cardinals' defense got off to a rocky start in 2011 -- struggling to adapt to the complicated new scheme implemented by first-year defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Whether you point to the effects of the lockout or the Cardinals' reliance on youth at many key defensive positions, it's no wonder the team took a while to gel as a unit.

Wired: Sam Acho @ CIN
Cardinals rookie OLB Sam Acho was wired for sound against the Bengals.

"Blunt Instrument Awards" with Ron Wolfley
Ron Wolfley gives out his annual "Blunt Instrument Awards" for the best players and plays of the 2011 season.

Cards Daily - Stopping Lynch Vital to Victory
The Cardinals aim to finish with a 4-2 record in the NFC West by beating the Seahawks on Sunday. Stopping dangerous runner Marshawn Lynch will be key in order to get the win.

Arizona Sports News:

Suns earn first win of season on road vs. Hornets
The Suns still don't resemble their sharpshooting ways of years past, but at least they looked like a winner again Friday night. They entered the win column because they didn't resemble their defensive ways of years past, either. The Suns won 93-78 at New Orleans Arena by holding the Hornets to 28.9 percent shooting, the second-worst clip in New Orleans franchise history.

Michael Redd looks to revitalize career with Phoenix Suns
Michael Redd had other options. He chose the Suns as much as the Suns chose him. Redd surely envisions an opportunity for a significant role with the Suns, perhaps even starting eventually if he proves healthy and productive. But he had other reasons for signing with the Suns. Steve Nash and the city once again figured in the equation but the reputation of Suns head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson, strength and conditioning coach Mike Elliott and assistant athletic trainer Tom Maystadt trumped a lot of basketball reasons.

NFL News:

2011 49ers Week 16: Five observations - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Five things I noticed about the San Francisco 49ers during their most recent game, a 19-17 road victory over the Seattle Seahawks:

Peyton Hillis believes in the ‘Madden Curse’ now - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
All it took was a 600-yard, eight-touchdown decline in his rushing numbers this season to get Peyton Hillis to believe in the Madden Curse.

Emmitt Smith rips Cowboys’ toughness ahead of season finale - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
If the Dallas Cowboys continue to play without mental toughness, franchise legend Emmitt Smith thinks the team will get blew out ... blowed out on Sunday against the New York Giants. Blown out.

Skittles shoes cost Marshawn Lynch 10K | ProFootballTalk
Marshawn Lynch’s love of Skittles paid off in the form of free candy earlier this season, but now it is costing him some cash.

Putting Cam Newton’s rookie season in perspective | ProFootballTalk
Team P.R. staffs from time to time send out emails touting the accomplishments of their players. Few such emails raise more eyebrows than the one circulated today by the Panthers.