The Arizona Cardinals (1-3) and Minnesota Vikings (0-4) are two teams about to diverge from a shared path. Both teams had opportunities to have much better records than they do and both teams feel like they will get better closing out games. On Sunday, only one will have accomplished that goal according to coach Ken Whisenhunt.
"It's going to be a tough game. They play hard, they've got good football players and they haven't been able to finish out a game much like us. Obviously, one of the two teams will be able to finish the game this week, my hope is that it's us," Whiz said.
One area of improvement late in games cited by Whisenhunt was getting pressure on the quarterback, especially when you know they are throwing the ball. Part of that is keeping OLB Joey Porter from being gassed late in games and that means having having his backup, O'Brien Schofield, step up. Unfortunately, it sounds like Schofield's still not ready despite flashes of what his speed and talent can bring.
"The trust factor is what's so difficult because defensive schemes are all built on everybody being in their spot, and if they're not, that's what leads to big plays. When you see things happen, whether it's in practice or in a game, and players make mistakes, you have a tendency to be hesitant to put them in," Whisenhunt said.
Familiarity breeds contempt
Guard Daryn Colledge knows the Vikings defensive personnel very well. Having played against them 11 times in the past few years as a member of Green Bay Packers, he said Minnesota has an active front, similar to the New York Giants.
It sounds like there might even be some bad blood still, "There's a couple of guys over there that will remember me and that I remember."
Todd Heap (hamstring) will be like Beanie Wells last week, a Sunday decision. C Lyle Sendlein (elbow) and CB A.J. Jefferson (ankle) both did more in practice today so they look good for Sunday. Joey Porter (knee) should be fine. Resting him during the week is about helping him stay fresh for the game.
LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) has progressed to the point where he will likely start returning kicks again. He made a catch in the Giants game and could have returned kicks but Whisenhunt was happy with A.J. Jefferson in that role.
For more on the Cardinals, visit Revenge of the Birds blog.