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8-10-11: Bird Droppings - Getting Ready For The Preseason

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Tomorrow, it will finally be here. The preseason debut of Kevin Kolb, and our first real taste of football in months. Are you excited?

Arizona Cardinals News:

Protecting The Nest
Special ticket plans go on sale starting Thursday

Sampson Makes An Impression
DeMarco Sampson stayed with Larry Fitzgerald for a month this offseason, but it could still be a lonely existence, thanks to the size of Fitz’s house.

Word From the Birds Blog - A catch and a hurdle to end things
The Cardinals wrapped up Flagstaff practice this afternoon under gloomy skies and a little rain (but not enough to drive them inside.) As usual, Larry Fitzgerald made a few nice catches, including one in the back of the end zone, just getting both feet in. But it was what happened next that provided the highlight.

Report: Cardinals interested in Lee Evans | ProFootballTalk
The Bills may be shopping veteran receiver Lee Evans. And the Cardinals may be interested in acquiring him.

Arizona Cardinals safety Hamza Abdullah invited to the White House
Safety Hamza Abdullah probably won't believe he was invited to the White House until he shakes President Obama's hand Wednesday night. Abdullah and his brother Husain, a safety for the Vikings, were invited to the Iftar Dinner celebrating the end of Ramadan.

Arizona Cardinals key position battles
The Cardinals first depth chart of the season contained no surprises, but it's also highlighted how tenuous some starting jobs are. Of the 22 regular starting positions, I count at least 11 that are up for grabs, at least to some extent. Here they are:

Arizona Cardinals' Rashad Johnson aiming higher
When Cardinals defensive backs meet at training camp, not all topics are easily summarized by drawings on a grease board. It's not uncommon for opinions and feelings to be shared, a different sort of Xs and Os. Safety Rashad Johnson is accustomed to it, but he admitted he was a little taken aback last week when starter Adrian Wilson mentioned Johnson's name. news: Under-the-radar rookies poised to impress during preseason
DeMarco Sampson, WR, Cardinals, seventh-rounder

When veteran receivers and assistant coaches tell you to keep your eye on a rookie when you get to camp there's a reason. Sampson's a big, strong receiver who has a chance to make this team. He looked good driving off the line of scrimmage and getting into the vertical game.

Whisenhunt looking for composure from Kolb -
The Arizona Cardinals kick off their preseason against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday as everybody is eagerly awaiting the debut of new quarterback Kevin Kolb. Coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't necessarily looking for Kolb to light the world on fire, but simply continue to improve.

What I Want to See from Kevin Kolb in Preseason -
Kevin Kolb has been the story of the lockout. He was the number-one topic of conversation during the labor dispute and soon will be the most scrutinized starting quarterback of the 2011 season. The scrutiny will begin in earnest Thursday night when the Arizona Cardinals play the Oakland Raiders in week one of the NFL's 2011 preseason.

Preseason opener 'won't look pretty' -
You may be incredibly excited to watch the Arizona Cardinals open their preseason Thursday against the Oakland Raiders, but you may actually want to look away.

Kevin Kolb strives for perfection with the Arizona Cardinals -
Being the new guy in town is hard in any walk of life. It's even tougher when you're an NFL quarterback who just signed a $63 million contract extension and who has the hopes of a franchise placed squarely on your shoulders. That's the challenge facing Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb. After a 5-11 season the fan base is looking for a return to the top of the NFC West and they expect their new signal caller to take them there. While that may seem like a lot of pressure, it likely pales in comparison to the pressure Kolb puts on himself.

Cardinals not worried about No. 2 receiver -
There has been a lot of talk about who the Cardinals should get to be their No. 2 receiver. Braylon Edwards, Malcom Floyd and Randy Moss have all been mentioned, but the winner of the "race" may already be on the roster. "I'd say Andre [Roberts] right now just based on the way he finished the season and what he's done in camp so far," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I wouldn't put Early [Doucet] out of the mix either because Early has played and has been productive for us in games." Whisenhunt said receiver is an area where guys will continue to compete, but the idea that they are in dire need of another option is not one coming from their camp.

Kolb's fit in Cardinals' offense questioned -
Kevin Kolb appears to be a good fit with his coaches and teammates, but is he the right guy to run the Cardinals' offense?

Reason for optimism with Adrian Wilson -
It was originally feared that Adrian Wilson's biceps injury would force him to miss the entire 2011 season. Deciding to forego surgery, Wilson told teammates he'd play in Week 1 while his head coach, not confident in the Week 1 prediction, thinks his Pro-Bowler will return at some point this year. So does Sports 620 KTAR's Ron Wolfley, especially after seeing Wilson's demeanor Monday.

Think you'll see Cam Newton Week 1 versus the Cardinals? Think again -
We know the Carolina Panthers are coming to University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 1 to take on the Arizona Cardinals. What we don't know is who will lineup under center for them.

Word From the Birds Blog - Talk around the lunchroom
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said today that quarterback Kevin Kolb will probably play a little more than a first-team QB would normally in the first preseason game. That works for Kolb, who wants to play as much as he will be allowed. It’s definitely going to be an interesting game Thursday night just because of the utter lack of preparation given the offseason and the delay for just-signed vets. QB Kevin Kolb was asked about the need to play more. "That’s a good question," he said. Kolb stayed up in Flagstaff over the weekend to work on learning the playbook, even as many of his teammates went down the hill for a little rest. "I don’t want to make a bunch of mistakes," Kolb said, but he admitted he’d rather make them now than later.

Word From the Birds Blog - Making people miss (and other stuff)
Coach Ken Whisenhunt wants his running backs to be more productive than last year. Obviously, it’s not just on the backs to make the running game improve, but when asked specifically about the backs, Whiz quickly had a couple of points to make — which could be one reason Ryan Williams intrigued them so much in the draft and why they might have been willing to trade Tim Hightower. In the end, both points Whiz made are basically the same — beating the opponent in one-on-one situations, whether it is on a rushing attempt or on a reception.

One-on-one with the Cardinals' Mike Leach -
The poor long-snapper. Only noticed when things go wrong, his job is as thankless as it is obscure. But times, they are a changin'. Mike Leach, who starts off every punt and field goal for the Cardinals, answered some questions for us via text message. So go ahead, don't be afraid, step into the mind of a long-snapper.

Kolb Absorbing Offense, Ready For Oakland
Video Gallery -

Whisenhunt Leads Cards Into Oakland
Video Gallery -

Arizona Sports News:

Arizona Diamondbacks rally past pesky Houston Astros
There are times, and they are getting more frequent, when pitchers just look overmatched against Justin Upton. He has that confident approach from the on-deck circle, eyes focused on the pitcher, the quick flick of the wrists igniting a powerful swing. He showed that again Tuesday night - and the maturing right fielder was able to because he found a way to control his emotions and deliver big hits after a confrontation with the home-plate umpire. Fueled by Upton's four RBIs, including his 23rd home run of the season, the Diamondbacks overcame a six-run deficit with a pair of four-run innings to defeat the Astros 11-9 in front of 17,814 at Chase Field. The win kept them a half-game behind the Giants in the National League West.

Phoenix Mercury grab hard-fought victory at home
It wasn't a 3-pointer. It wasn't a flashy fast-break play. It was heart and hustle. It was a steal and other hustle plays like it that changed the game and sealed an 85-80 win for the Mercury, who snapped the Minnesota Lynx's nine-game winning streak Tuesday at US Airways Center in front of 6,726.

NFL News:

NFL Power Rankings Preseason - National Football League - ESPN
Take a look at's Preseason Power Rankings to see which teams reigned supreme in the NFL

NFL adds game-day tests for performance enhancers - ESPN
The NFL is adding game-day testing for performance-enhancing substances -- but not recreational drugs -- this season under the new collective bargaining agreement.

Vernon Davis has company in NFC West - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Matt from Toronto asks whether the NFC West has the best group of tight ends in the NFL.

Power Rankings: How the voters voted - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The Green Bay Packers are reigning Super Bowl champions and the No. 1 team in's first NFL Power Rankings for the 2011 season. It's looking like their parade has taken a detour around the AFC North.

Arena football fan penalized for grabbing kick returner | ProFootballTalk
Here’s one of the more bizarre things we’ve seen in a football game: A fan with front-row end zone seats at an Arena football game in Jacksonville grabbed the visiting team’s kick returner to prevent him from running the ball out of the end zone.

Kyle Shanahan says he wanted Texans to take John Beck with 10th pick in 2007 | ProFootballTalk
As Redskins coach Mike Shanahan tries to keep his cards close to the vest while pondering his none-of-the-above quarterback situation, an interesting anecdote has emerged from Peter King of regarding the extent to which Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan likes John Beck.