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4-20-11: Bird Droppings - Cardinals Schedule Revealed, East Coast Road Trips

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Time for some links, mostly involving the new schedule and those evil East Coast road trips. I have a lot of good stuff for you guys today.

Also, for my 20th birthday, a black Larry Fitzgerald jersey has been added to me collection of Cardinals jerseys. Today has been a good day.

Arizona Cardinals announce 2011 schedule
If the 2011 NFL season starts on time, the Cardinals will play at home the opening week for only the third time since moving to Arizona in 1988. And that's just about the only unusual part of the team's schedule announced by the NFL on Tuesday. The Cardinals are not scheduled to play in prime time, likely a result of last season's 5-11 record. Some games in the second half of the year could be moved to the evening if NBC (Channel 12 in Phoenix) and the NFL find them attractive.

Arizona Cardinals schedule analysis - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Breakdown: The Arizona Cardinals open at home for only the third time since moving to Arizona for the 1988 season. Better yet, the Carolina Panthers are on the menu. Arizona can't take any opponent for granted, of course, but opening the season with a clearly winnable home game certainly beats the alternative. The bye falls in Week 6 and gives coach Ken Whisenhunt extra time to prepare for a Week 7 home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whisenhunt, assistant head coach/offensive line Russ Grimm and new defensive coordinator Ray Horton are among the former Steelers assistants on Arizona's staff. The additional time gives Arizona the best chance to pull an upset against the AFC champs.

Word From the Birds Blog - Immediate schedule thoughts
The schedule is out. A few quick thoughts:

Cardinals schedule is not too bad -
We finally know. If there is to be an NFL season, we now know exactly who the Cardinals will play, where they will play them and on what day. Starting at home against the Panthers and finishing at home against the Seahawks, the schedule is fairly balanced and, based on record, the easiest in the NFL. However, there are some interesting things to note. blogs - Kent Somers - Initial reaction to 2011 schedule
Some quick thoughts on the Cardinals 2011 schedule:

Assessing The 2011 Schedule
Cards open with Carolina at home, finish with four of five at home

NFL Videos: Whisenhunt on 2011 schedule
Find out what gets Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt fired up when the NFL regular season schedule is released.

NFL Videos: State of the Franchise: Cardinals
Will the Cardinals draft a QB with the No. 5 overall pick? Kurt Warner thinks so. Find out who they'll target.

NFL Videos: Top 100: Adrian Wilson
49ers TE Vernon Davis talks about the dedication of Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson.

Video Gallery -
Whisenhunt Reacts to 2011 Schedule

Arizona Diamonbacks beat Cincinnati Reds behind Ryan Roberts' 2 HRs
Ryan Roberts made the starting lineup because of an injury and hit two of Arizona's four homers off Sam LeCure on Tuesday night, leading the Diamondbacks to a 5-4 victory over the slumping Cincinnati Reds.

Video: 2011 schedule and kickoff times - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The latest NFC West video examine what's important for West Coast teams when the NFL announces the 2011 regular-season schedule Tuesday. Also: a stunning stat. news: Schedule Release 2011 - Arizona
Kurt Warner's retirement clearly led to the Cardinals' rough fall from grace last season, as they finished 5-11 after winning the NFC West the previous two years. Will the league's easiest schedule help get them back on top?

Larry Fitzgerald is a different kind of leader -
We haven't yet really felt the impact of the NFL lockout. Sure, free agency has not happened. And yes, any statement about the 2011 season is followed with the qualifier "if there is a 2011 season." But really, truly, we haven't yet really missed anything. That will soon change.

WR A.J. Green is both intriguing and terrifying -
The mocks are coming fast and furious now. Who will the Arizona Cardinals select at number five? Your guess is as good as anybody's. Literally. Blaine Gabbert, Von Miller, Patrick Peterson, Robert Quinn ; all names that have appeared in one mock draft or another over the last few weeks. But this one is new. New to me anyway. Georgia receiver A.J. Green.

420 Day Celebration Of Best Arizona Sports Marijuana Stories - Desert Dirt - SB Nation Arizona
I am sure I don't have to tell you people what day it is today. Today is April 20, aka 4/20, aka 420, and all steaming from 4:20 p.m., the time the kids used to meet after school and light one up. It's the one day of the year in which the celebration of marijuana comes out of the smoky closet and we talk openly about the green stuff. Or at least we do here at SB Nation Arizona where our zero tolerance policy is waived for just this one day of the year. In honor of Pot Day, we look back at some of our favorite stories involving sports and marijuana.

An early read on those dreaded early starts - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Twenty-seven San Francisco 49ers games since 2007 were or remain scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. PT. Twenty-nine was the maximum possible number, based on how many road games the 49ers play or are scheduled to play against teams that regularly kick off at that time.

Adventures in drafting NFL running backs - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Every NFC West team has needs greater than running back heading into the 2011 NFL draft. There are still issues at the position.

With Kolb it's all about control -
We all want control in our lives. What person do you know that proclaims his or her undying gratitude for their life spinning out of control? Control can be pathological for some and complicated for others but never rejected by mainstream America. Control, not greed, is good. Kevin Kolb seems to be trying to manipulate the system, the system that currently doesn't exist in the NFL but will one day in the not so distant future.

Schedule shows how far Cardinals have fallen -
The NFL released the schedule for next season and with it the list of prime time games on Sunday and Monday night football where the league typically puts the best teams. The Arizona Cardinals don't have any prime time games on either Sunday or Monday night football next season. It only took one awful season for the league to relegate the Cardinals to second class status.

The hype around the Arizona Cardinals schedule is just absurd -
One thing you should know about me is that I don't like to miss work. It's a trait my father -- that's Mr. Espo to you -- instilled in me as a young kid. He was a firm believer in only missing work for one vacation a year or if you were hospitalized (and that latter was negotiable). Tuesday I broke that rule and it didn't bother me in the least. That's because Tuesday was the day the NFL tries to generate fake excitement by releasing each team's schedule on a two-hour show that can only be described as the Klohe Kardashian of NFL Network specials (bloated, uninteresting and yet somehow popular). The event took on an extra level of lunacy when you mixed in the fact that, due to the lockout, some of these games may never be played. It's like showing a preview for a new M. Night Shyamalan movie in theaters. Who are they kidding? Everyone knows it will never be seen. news: Newton, Gabbert debate could take interesting twist in Week 1
For months, we heard about who would be the first quarterback taken, or whether Cam Newton will be better than Blaine Gabbert. Well, in Week 1, we might -- and that is a reach -- get our first look at both when the Panthers travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals. news: Miller's skill earns 'backer high praise entering draft
As a scout, you often compare prospects against current and former pros to provide coaches with perspective on their potential. Although these visual clues don't always bear out, they are an essential part of the scouting process. When looking at outside linebackers, I've often used Derrick Thomas as the standard. My former teammate transformed the game with his exceptional rush skills and his ability to produce game-changing plays as a catalyst to the Kansas City Chiefs' defense in the 1990s.

Jon Gruden’s ‘QB Camp’ makes people uncomfortable - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Despite his performances on Monday nights, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden is capable of making some entertaining television. Gruden's "QB Camp" series, in which he pokes and prods QB draft prospects, seems to exist for the sole purpose of making guys like Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert cringe uncomfortably in their chair while trying to think of something to say that would make them look halfway competent. If that's the case, Gruden has nailed it.

Gruden reflects on the 2011 quarterback class - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
His critical eye may frighten some of the quarterbacks of the 2011 draft class, but former NFL coach and current ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden has as much intel on "these guys" (to use his vernacular) as anyone analyzing them pre-draft. In preparation for his QB Camp shows with Auburn's Cam Newton, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, Washington's Jake Locker, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and TCU's Andy Dalton, Gruden crunched a bunch of game tape and then put those kids under the microscope. On a Tuesday media conference call, Gruden gave his grades on the QB Camp Five. And for a guy who was infamous for being brutal with young quarterbacks when he was a coach, Gruden certainly found enough to like about this group. blogs - Coro's Orange Slices - PaulCoro - Gortat finishes 9th in 6th man voting
Suns center Marcin Gortat finished in ninth place for Sixth Man Award voting despite only coming off the bench for 43 games of his breakthough stint in Phoenix. blogs - RichardObertRattlers Blog - RichardObertRattlers - WR Windsor Offensive Player of Week
Rattlers receiver Rod Windsor was named the Arena Football League's Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Week after catching 16 passes for 217 yards and five touchdowns in Saturday's 63-49 victory at the Kansas City Command.

St. Louis Rams schedule analysis - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Breakdown: The Rams open with three of their first four games at home, giving them a better chance against some tough teams. One of those games is against the Washington Redskins, who face the Rams for a fourth consecutive season and the second year in a row at the Edward Jones Dome. Since 2008, the Rams are 2-1 against the Redskins and 8-37 against everyone else. It's clear in looking at the schedule that the Rams have earned some respect. They are back on "Monday Night Football" for the first time since the 2006 season -- not just once, but twice. The team faces the New York Giants on the road in a Week 2 Monday night game pitting coach Steve Spagnuolo against his former team. Experience and inside knowledge should arm him with an excellent plan for Eli Manning. In Week 14, the Rams return to Qwest Field, the scene of their painful Week 17 defeat last season, for their second appearance on Monday night.

Seattle Seahawks schedule analysis - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Breakdown: The Seattle Seahawks are back on "Monday Night Football" for the first time since the 2007 season when they face the division-rival St. Louis Rams in a Dec. 12 matchup. Seattle faces Philadelphia at Qwest Field in a Thursday night game one week earlier. That means the Seahawks will have 11 days to prepare for the prime-time game against St. Louis. Before basking in the prime-time lights, the season opens with a trip to San Francisco in a rematch of the 2010 opener. Seattle won that game handily, but the Seahawks face a tougher challenge against the 49ers on the road. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck played one of his worst games of the 2010 season at Candlestick Park. On the positive side, the Seahawks play three in a row at home beginning with the Dec. 1 game against the Eagles.

San Francisco 49ers schedule analysis - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Breakdown: The 49ers open the Jim Harbaugh era with home games against Seattle and Dallas. The team then plays three of its next four on the road, however, and there are truly some brutal stretches for San Francisco. The one home game during that stretch falls against a Tampa Bay team that shut out the 49ers at Candlestick Park last season. Later, the 49ers visit Baltimore for a Thanksgiving game on NFL Network. They play at home against Pittsburgh on "Monday Night Football" in Week 15. Teams welcome playing in prime time, but those are a couple of tough matchups. More on that below.

A 6-10 record won’t keep the Cowboys out of primetime, all the time | ProFootballTalk
It’s going to take a lot more than a Tony Romo collarbone injury and a 6-10 record to sour television networks on the Cowboys. Dallas is one of only six teams to get a maximum five games in primetime this season. The other five — Eagles, Colts, Ravens, Jets, and Steelers — all made the playoffs last year. Heck, four of those teams won a playoff game last year, which matches Dallas’ postseason output for the last 13 years.

NBA Fines Referee Ken Mauer Over Incident With Suns' Zabian Dowdell - SB Nation Arizona
There's a lot of important things going on the the NBA right now. The playoffs are underway and Phoenix rivals Lakers and Spurs are both down 0-1 in their series. The Heat look like the team everyone thought they would be, before they decided they weren't, but once again think they are. In Phoenix there's the little issue of the upcoming NBA Draft (June 23) and hanging over everything, of course, is the specter of an NBA lockout staring July 1 when the current CBA expires. There was, however, the one small matter of the ugly incident that happened on the court at the end Suns' season in the final minutes of a blowout loss to the the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 30.

Chicago cop: Gang likely to use ASU logo
Kenneth Epich is an Arizona State fan and alum who bleeds maroon, if not gold. He attends ASU events whenever the Sun Devils are playing in the Chicago area, whether it's football or a golf tournament. And he and his wife, another ASU grad, were among the founding members of Chicago's chapter of the ASU Alumni Association. But Epich is no fan of ASU's new Nike-designed "pitchfork" logo. Blame it on his job.

Report: More NFL players to file for seat at talks - ESPN
A group consisting of as many as 70 players is close to signing with a law firm in order to intervene in the Tom Brady antitrust case, the Sports Business Journal reported Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.

Roger Goodell: NFL plans on season starting on time - ESPN
The NFL and its locked-out players have opened a fourth day of court-ordered talks at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis.

The forgotten five: Teams with no primetime games | ProFootballTalk
The Lions and their fans are fired up to have their first Monday Night Football game in a decade. On the other side of things: Fans of the five NFL teams that didn’t get a single primetime game, subject to change if any of them got flexed into a late Sunday night game.