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1-7-12: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Wildcard Weekend Begins

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Time for some links as the Playoffs begin

Arizona Cardinals News:

Peterson Named To AP All-Pro Team
Rookie is league's top return man; Fans can also name him Rookie of Year

Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton to interview for Rams head-coaching job
The Rams have confirmed they are interviewing Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton for their head-coaching position.

Evaluating Arizona Cardinals' potential reunion with Todd Haley
It's not a surprise the Cardinals plan to talk to Todd Haley about returning to run the offense. The Cardinals were at their offensive peak in 2008 when they went to the Super Bowl with Haley calling plays and coordinating the offense. news: Exit Interview: Cardinals can contend for NFC West crown in '12
2011 in a Nutshell: Do you think anyone east of some campsite in Eagar, Ariz., realizes the Cardinals finished 8-8? Arizona closed out the season winning seven of its final nine games and should not be underestimated as a contender for the NFC West title in 2012.

Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald earn All-Pro honors
The Arizona Cardinals had two representatives on the 2011 Associated Press NFL All-Pro teams, with rookie Patrick Peterson named the first-team kick returner, and Larry Fitzgerald a second-team selection at wide receiver.

Word From the Birds Blog - Horton’s interview with the Rams
The news came out this morning that defensive coordinator Ray Horton is interviewing with the Rams today for their head coaching vacancy. It just goes to show how much success can catch people’s attention. Horton’s defense did the job the second half of the season for sure. But he is a far cry from walking out the door. Jeff Fisher is and has been in the mix as Rams’ coach, and as recently as Thursday night, ESPN’s John Clayton was saying he thought Fisher would indeed end up with the Rams. The Rams had not yet interviewed a minority candidate — they reportedly had been interested in Miami’s Todd Bowles (who, ironically, also interviewed for the Cards’ DC job Horton eventually got) but he has not been interviewed.

Top rookie: 49ers' Smith vs. Cards' Peterson - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The Arizona Cardinals could have drafted pass-rusher Aldon Smith. They chose cornerback Patrick Peterson instead. Both players are finalists in online voting for rookie honors through the NFL.

Company for Larry Fitzgerald, Vernon Davis - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Thoughts on where NFC West players ranked for 2011 in yards per pass target:

Levi Brown's future is up in air -
Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Levi Brown may have played well over the second half of the 2011 season, but inconsistency in the first four-and-a-half years of his career have left many disappointed with his play.

Calais Campbell is a top priority for Cards -
Calais Campbell is coming off a season with the Arizona Cardinals setting a personal, single-season high of 72 tackles, leading the team with eight sacks, and finishing fourth on the team for unassisted tackles with 53.

XTRA910 audio: Coaching changes, etc. - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Passing along: an audio link from my Friday conversation with Dan Bickley and Mike Jurecki of XTRA Sports 910 in Phoenix.

Cardinals Q&A: Richard Bartel on dealing with the media
The third-string quarterback sounds off on Greg McElroy's comments regarding the Jets' 'toxic' locker room.

No fines for Seahawks-Cardinals penalties - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Referee Gene Steratore and crew oversaw a hotly contested Seattle-Arizona game featuring seven penalties for personal fouls. Cameras showed Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch upset after Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson appeared to pull off Lynch's helmet at the end of a play. Those fouls and the Lynch-Wilson incident led to no NFL fines this week, a mild surprise given the league's emphasis on punishing players for roughness and related acts.

Bidwill Visits the Big Red Rage
Team President Michael Bidwill was a surprise guest for the season finale of the Big Red Rage radio show at Majerle's Sports Grill in Chandler.

Big Red Rage - Rhodes, Bidwill, Whisenhunt
Cardinals President Michael Bidwill and head coach Ken Whisenhunt joined Paul Calvisi, Ron Wolfley, and Kerry Rhodes to talk about the 2011 season and plans for the offseason.

Arizona Sports News:

Suns' offense comes alive, zips past sluggish Trail Blazers
There is the template for this Suns season. The improved defense made Portland's third-ranked offense look like it sent its junior varsity to Phoenix, barely shooting better than 30 percent Friday night. The Suns' fondly remembered offense finally found fourth gear, hitting 11 of its first 13 shots and never turning back in a 102-77 victory over Portland at US Airways Center.

Brock Osweiler leaving ASU football for NFL draft
Brock Osweiler is leaving ASU after just one full season as the school's starting quarterback. The 6-foot-8 junior, lauded for his leadership skills, officially announced Friday that he has decided to enter the NFL draft. This means for the fifth consecutive season ASU will have a new starter at the game's most important position.

ASU football: Todd Graham excited about his quarterbacks
New Arizona State coach Todd Graham said Friday that he would've loved to have coached Brock Osweiler, but the junior quarterback was strongly leaning toward the NFL from the time Graham arrived last month.

Brock Osweiler didn't see great benefit in returning to ASU
The most telling words in Brock Osweiler's statement about leaving Arizona State for the NFL were these: "It became clear to me that this is the next path I must take to advance my personal and professional career." Translation: He didn't see great benefit in staying. Sorry, ASU fans, but it's not hard to see how Osweiler reached that decision.

NFL News:

2011 49ers Week 17: Five observations - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Five things I noticed while watching the San Francisco 49ers' final game of the 2011 regular season, a 34-27 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the Edward Jones Dome:

AP All-Pro First Team Includes Aaron Rodgers; Drew Brees On Second Team -
The Associated Press has released their All-Pro team and it's Aaron Rodgers who gets the nod over Drew Brees on the first team.

NFL Playoffs: Who Are The X-Factors On Wild Card Weekend? -
Who are the difference makers on Wild Card weekend? SB Nation's NFL playoffs roundtable takes a look at the x-factors heading into the first round of playoff games.

Steelers Coach Kirby Wilson 'Badly Burned' In Fire; Condition Unknown -
Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson is in the hospital after being badly burned in a fire early Friday morning.