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We heard it after the game on Sunday and Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt repeated it Monday: He's looking for guys that can make plays and every position is under scrutiny. Many feel that Kevin Kolb would be excluded from that but Whisenhunt didn't rule out a change when asked specifically about the quarterback position.
"The quarterback is obviously the focal point of a lot of things when you don't win games -- when you lose five games in a row. Like I said, every position is going to be looked at from that standpoint," he said.
Most likely, that's just a message being sent and not indication that Kolb is going to get benched. At the same time, Whisenhunt is certainly ratcheting up the pressure on Kolb and making it clear that missing plays is not acceptable.
Whisenhunt repeatedly mentioned the missed throw to TE Rob Housler that should have gone for a touchdown. It was very similar to a play Kolb missed against Minnesota.
"Looking at our football team, we're looking for guys that can make plays and if we have to make changes across the board at different positions in order to do that, that's what we're going to do."
As has been much discussed, Kolb's got to get better at his footwork to allow him to stand in the pocket and make some of the throws. Whisenhunt stressed that he has made some big plays but the missed throw to Housler was purely footwork.
In case you are wondering what a change would look like, John Skelton has regained the number two quarterback job over Rich Bartel but Whiz says he's comfortable with either guy.
Barring injury, however, we still think it is highly unlikely that a move would be made any time soon.
The public pressure on Kolb is interesting, however, given how much pressure Kevin already puts on himself. Perhaps this is all more about deflecting attention or giving fans the impression that the coaching staff is "doing" something.
More likely candidates for change are outside linebackers Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield who both played well on Sunday according to their coach, "Those guys are getting a better feel for our defense and we're going to integrate them more."
For more on the Cardinals, visit Revenge of the Birds blog.
The Arizona Cardinals have had their fair share of bad news this season and with the way this team is playing, they can't afford to lose any more important pieces. Running back Beanie Wells left Sunday's game in the second quarter with what was described at the time as a right knee sprain. The team, however, initially thought it could be season-ending but the report on Monday is much more favorable.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt announced that Wells suffered swelling in the knee and that it "locked up" after he took a hit in the game. The examination revealed no structural damage and surgery is not required.
The injury was reported as a bone bruise with 1-2 week prognosis by the NFL Network. Whisenhunt wouldn't comment on the specifics or timetable.
"I don't know if bone bruise is accurate. I don't want to get into specifics of what it is. I don't want to put a time frame on it because I don't want to set the young man up for failure," Whisenhunt said.
The Arizona Cardinals lost another game thanks to mistakes that cost the team. There were positive signs, however, including a better performance from Kevin Kolb and three young players who stood out.
Big Ben racked up 361 yards through the air and threw for three touchdowns. Heath Miller hauled in the first, Mike Wallace scored the second on a 95-yard strike and Emmanuel Sanders recorded in the third quarter on a four-yard pass.
To Arizona's credit, they did a solid job containing the Steelers and their rushing attack. Rashard Mendenhall had just 32 yards on 13 carries and was unable to break away throughout the day. Fortunately for the Steelers and their many fans in attendance, the Cardinals had no answer for the passing attack.
Kevin Kolb played well against a tough Steelers secondary and tossed for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Beanie Wells was held to just 42 yards on 12 carries and appeared to injure himself midway through the game. LaRod Stephens-Howling and Early Doucet both hauled in touchdown passes. Larry Fitzgerald had four receptions for 78 yards.
All-in-all, the Cardinals were outmatched on Sunday. They kept it close through the third quarter, but Pittsburgh pulled away late for a 32-20 win.
For more on the Cardinals, check out Revenge of the Birds.
When you start the NFL season 1-5 there's a lot going wrong. It's easy and obvious to point the finger at quarterback Kevin Kolb but he's clearly not the only problem on the football field for the Arizona Cardinals. For his part, Kolb thought he played better in this game and sees progress in some aspects of the offense. At the same time, he knows he can't miss open receivers and needs to get better for this team to turn the corner.
Kolb is not going anywhere, however. It's almost impossible to envision a situation where the team decides to bench him in favor of back ups John Skelton or Rich Bartel barring injury. After trading so much to get him and signing him to a big contract, the Cardinals have no choice but to ride it out and hope that Kolb improves.
That doesn't mean everyone else on the team should feel secure about their jobs. A frustrated Ken Whisenhunt suggested that changes could be coming.
"We've got to look at everything we're doing and look at the guys that we're doing it with. I think it's not just one position, it's a number of positions. That's what we're trying to do to put our best guys in there to give us a chance to win," he said after the game.
One area to watch closely is the outside linebackers. Veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, both 34, have not made many plays this season and making plays, according to Whisenhunt, is what's needed most. The pair have combined for just 2 sacks and 19 tackles on the season.
Backing up these aging warriors are two young guns in O'Brien Schofield and Sam Acho who've combined for 1.5 sacks in very limited playing time. The two played together to start the fourth quarter and were able to at least make life uncomfortable for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Acho's sack in the red zone helped the defense prevent a touchdown.
"We're just waiting our turn," Schofield said. "When the coaches give us time like that in games it's very valuable for the learning experience and just to show them we can get it done."
Other than perhaps playing rookies David Carter at nose tackle, DeMarco Sampson more at wide receiver and TE Rob Housler, there's not a lot of other positions where the Cardinals have the depth to make changes aside from those outside linebackers.
ILB Daryl Washington, himself only a second-year player who's already emerging as one of the brightest talents on the team, recognizes where things are headed.
"Those young guys, Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield, have bright futures ahead of them," Washington said. "These guys will continue learning and communicating. It's good for us to get in the game and work together because we're the future."
He's absolutely right. Washington, Acho and Schofield are the future and at 1-5, it's time to start giving them more opportunities to play together.
The Arizona Cardinals could not avoid mistake or the big play in Glendale. They allowed a 95-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, were penalized 10 times and got hit with a safety. They were able to pull within three points twice, but the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled away and beat Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals 32-20.
The game started inauspiciously as the Cardinals' first drive ended in a Kevin Kolb interception off a pass that hit Robert Housler and bounced in to the hands of the waiting Ryan Clark. The Steelers then took five plays to score a touchdown, as either Clark Haggans or Adrian Wilson messed up the coverage, allowing Heath Miller free to score a touchdown from 12 yards out.
The rest of the first quarter consisted of exchanged punts.
After another two punts by the Cardinals and one by the Steelers, the Steelers started their next drive at their own five-yard line after a penalty. That is where the biggest play of the game happened. Ben Roethlisberger then hit Mike Wallace over Patrick Peterson, who then raced to the endzone for a 95-yard score, the longest in Steelers history.
The next drive for the Cardinals was as good a drive as we have seen this season. They marched down the field in 13 plays for 80 yards and scored a touchdown on a one-yard run by Alfonso Smith. Smith was in the game because Beanie Wells left with a sprained right knee. He did not return. It was the first career touchdown for Smith.
That drive gave the Cardinals a little momentum, but they allowed the Steelers to march down the field and kick a field goal. The Arizona defense was flagged for three penalties during the drive. Pittsburgh led 17-7 at halftime.
Arizona pulled with three points again, 17-14, as Kevin Kolb hit LaRod Stephens-Howling on a 73-yard catch and run for a touchdown. It was the perfect mix of pass protection by the offensive line, pocket awareness by Kolb and route running by LSH.
After that, nothing really went right. the Steelers drove 80 yards to go ahead 24-14. Then Kevin Kolb was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone for a Pittsburgh safety after LaMar Woodley was left unblocked. Had Kolb not been penalized, the result woudl have been a sack with the same result. 26-14 Steelers.
Pittsburgh's Shane Suisham kicked a pair of field goals to extend the lead to 32-14, and the Kevin Kolb hit Early Doucet for a TD in what was essentially garbage time.
Kolb finished the game 18/34 for 272 yards, two TDs and one interception. Beanie Wells before leaving rushed 12 times for 42 yards. Early Doucet had five catches for 30 yards and a score. Larry Fitzgerald caught four for 78 yards.
For Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 340 yards and three TDs. Both Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace had over 100 yards receiving. Rashard Mendenhall was held to 32 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Both teams played sloppily with penalties. Arizona was penalized 10 times for 88 yards, while Pittsburgh was flagged nine times.
The loss is the fifth straight for the Cardinals, who now are four games behind the division leading San Francisco 49ers. They go on the road to play the Baltimore ravens next week.
Just when you thought things we're getting interesting, Kevin Kolb tossed a pass at the feet of his lineman as he was being wrapped up by linebacker LaMarr Woodley in the back of the endzone resulting in a safety (his league-high third intentional grounding penalty of the year). While the flag was extremely late, it was the correct call nonetheless, giving the Steelers a 26-14 lead.
The Cardinals did strike first in the third quarter when LaRod Stephens-Howling turned a simple crossing pattern into a 73-yard touchdown when he outran the entire Steelers defense. But it wasn't 17-14 for long, as the Steelers responded by driving back down the field and extending the lead to 10 with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger juked Cardinals linebacker Clark Haggans out of his shoes on the play, avoiding what should have been an easy sack to find Sanders standing alone in the back of the endzone.
For the most part, Roethlisberger has had all the time he's needed to tear up the Cardinals secondary for three touchdowns. The Cardinals inability to pressure the quarterback doubled with the fact that the Cardinals have been bottling up Rashard Mendenhall and Co. all game have caused head coach Mike Tomlin to almost entirely abandon the run despite a 12 point lead.
The Cards will definitely have to start moving the ball better if they are to surmount this deficit within the final fifteen minutes.
The Cardinals were finally able to make a dent in the scoreboard before the end of the half with running back Alfonso Smith punching it in from the one yard line. Smith has taken over workhorse duties when starter Beanie Wells (right knee) headed to the locker room with around the two minute warning.
The Cardinals' 80-yard scoring drive was assisted by handful of yellow flags due to Steelers' defensive miscues. The Cardinals then turned around and returned the favor with rookie conerrback Patrick Peterson getting flagged for pass interference and illegal hands to the face, setting up a Shaun Suisham 41-yard field goal that made the score 17-7. In the first half alone, both teams combined for seven penalties that allowed first downs (four of which by the Cardinals).
The Steelers got their other touchdown on a 95-yard bomb to the speedy Mike Wallace (the longest passing play in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers). Cardinals cornerback Richard Marshall bit on a nice play action fake by Ben Roethlisberger, leaving Wallace wide open since safety Rashad Johnson failed to provide any help over the top.
The game would be much closer if it wasn't for Kevin Kolb missing rookie tight end Rob Houseler for a wide open touchdown early in the second quarter. The third round pick is having a nice game filling in for the injured Todd Heap (hamstring) with two catches for 28 yards, good enough for second on the team.
Kolb has had an up and down game so far completing 9-17 passes for 121 yards and one pick. Larry Fitzgerald is leading the team in receiving with two catches for 44 yards. Wells was able to rack up 42 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game with his knee injury. Since then, the Cardinals have went with a noticeable amount of empty backfield formations.
For the Steelers, Mike Wallace's only catch has been the 95-yard touchdown but wide receiver Aaron Brown is one pace for a new career high in receiving, catching four passes for 66 yards. The Cardinals also continued to bottle up the Steelers run game, holding Rashard Mendenhall to five carries for three yards. The Steelers only managed to total 18 rushing yards in one half of play
With two minutes left in the first half of the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cardinals have suffered an injury to one of their most important players. Running back Beanie Wells has left the field to go to the locker room with a right knee injury. The first reports are that it is a sprained right knee.
With his absence, Alfonso Smith got the carries in his place and scored the first touchdown of his young career.
So far, Wells had 42 yards rushing on 12 carries. The status for his return is unknown.
If he is unable to return this game, it will be a big blow unless Smith can step up and make a huge contribution. With the Steelers playing their third-string defensive tackle because of injuries to Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke, most are expecting success in the running game for the Cardinals.
We will likely know more after halftime.
With one quarter in the books, the Arizona Cardinals are finally getting their act together. After the first two possessions ended with a pick deflected off of tight end Rob Housler and a near-pick deflected off of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu's hands, the Cardinals closed out the quarter on the Steelers' side of the field for the first time.
Thanks to incredible 31-yard leaping catch by Larry Fitzgerald, Kevin Kolb had his yard total nearly doubled, finishing the quarter with a line of 4-7 for 69 yards and one interception. His leading reciever is Fitzgerald with that lone catch for 31 yards. Beanie Wells has begun the game slow with a meager six carries for nine yards.
The Steelers capitalized on the lone turnover of the game, converting the Kolb pick into a 12 yard touchdown to Heath Miller in which absolutely no defenders were even on the same side of the field as the tight end.
The Cardinals did manage to bottle of the Steelers run game in the first 15 minutes, only allowing nine rushing yards. While Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accurate early, the Cardinals have done a solid job limiting his big plays keeping his favorite deep threat, wide receiver Mike Wallace, catch-less through one.
So far these teams have played each other very evenly and the game would still most likely be scoreless if it wasn't for Kolb's early blunder.
The Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers are just over an hour away from kicking off a game that many people suggest will be an upset. The 1-4 Cardinals play well at home and are desperate while the 4-2 Steelers have been inconsistent on the road and are banged up.
The Cardinals have one notable injury, TE Todd Heap is on the inactive list thanks to a hamstring injury. All week he was called a game-time decision. Apparently, the decision was no.
RB Chester Taylor hasn't done much since coming to the Cardinals and won't be active today. Young Alfonso Smith has taken his spot as the back-up to Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling. Also moving up in the depth chart is QB John Skelton who has been elevated to the number two spot and push Rich Bartel to the inactive list.
Other inactives for the Cardinals include: S Kerry Rhodes (foot), T D'Anthony Batiste, TE Jim Dray (pectoral), DE Ronald Talley. With Dray and Heap inactive, the Cardinals will rely entirely on Jeff King and Rob Housler. If Kolb is on form, this could be a big day for rookie Housler.
The active list includes recently acquired safety, Sean Considine to provide depth at a position where the Cardinals are weak. Rhodes is out several weeks with a broken foot which moves Rashad Johnson into the starting lineup with Hamza Abullah also on the bench playing behind Adrian Wilson.
For the Steelers, the big blows come to the front line of their defense which was already 20th in the league in stopping the run. OLB James Harrison is out along with his backup Jason Worilds. Starting NT Casey Hampton and his backup on the depth chart, Chris Hoke are both inactive as well.
Making matters worse for the Steelers, starting DE Aaron Smith is on the IR due to a neck injury. That's a total of three starters and two backups missing from the Pittsburgh front seven.
Also inactive for the Steelers are: QB Dennis Dixon, RB Jonathan Dwyer, and C/G Dough Legursky.
The Cardinals need to take advantage of the Steelers injuries in the front seven and run the ball hard in order the establish the pass and take some pressure off QB Kevin Kolb.
No big changes on the Cardinals' injury report for Friday but it's been confirmed that Arizona will be without starting safety Kerry Rhodes as he battles a foot injury. TE Todd Heap remains a gametime decision and is officially listed as questionable.
As for the Steelers, the most notable exception is LB James Harrison, recently voted the meanest player in the NFL in a landslide, who is still recovering from an eye fracture.
Here are the official injury reports for both teams:
OUT - T Casey Hampton (shoulder), LB James Harrison (eye), G Doug Legursky (toe), DE Aaron Smith (foot)
DOUBTFUL - T Chris Hoke (neck)
QUESTIONABLE - LB Jason Worilds (quadricep)
PROBABLE - RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee), C Maurkice Pouncey (elbow), WR Mike Wallace (hamstring)
To talk Cardinals football, head to Revenge of the Birds.
After 10 days with no games, there's little else the Arizona Cardinals have left to say. That's in large part because there's little else the media can think of to ask. For example, Ken Whisenhunt was asked if there's any different vibe playing against a team like Pittsburgh.
"That (the fact they are a good football team) coupled with the fact that we played them a couple of years ago in the Super Bowl adds a little bit more excitement to this game. No question," Whisenhunt revealed.
How is it to keep trying to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball?
"It's always been that way when you've got a good football player. No matter what's going on you're trying to find ways to get him the ball."
Anything different about Steelers defense?
"No. They're pretty good. You look at them statistically and they are a pretty good football team. The thing that's impressive about them is they do it with different guys. They've had some guys that have been injured and some guys have stepped up. I don't notice anything different."
For the record, the Steelers defense is second in the NFL against the pass, 20th against the run and fifth overall in opponent's scoring.
The latest injury report is out. Two crucial starters for the Arizona Cardinals did not suit up for Wednesday's practice in preparation for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Starting tight end Todd Heap continues to be bothered by a hamstring issue, and starting free safety Kerry Rhodes continues to be bothered with foot issues. You would have to think both starters are questionable to see the field on Sunday.
Thankfully, tight end Jim Dray seems to have finally gotten some relief for that bothersome pectoral injury. He is limited in practice, but it's better than being totally shut down. With Heap struggling with his own injury problems, Dray could see some action in the near future.
The injury list for the Steelers is long: T Casey Hampton (shoulder), LB James Harrison (eye), T Chris Hoke (neck), G Doug Legursky (toe), DE Aaron Smith (foot), WR Mike Wallace (hamstring), WR Hines Ward (not injury related)
To talk Cardinals football, head to Revenge of the Birds.
The Arizona Cardinals have not won a football game in 36 days. Not since the Cardinals defeated the Panthers 28-21 in Week 1 have the Redbirds left the field victorious. They currently sit 3.5 games behind the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West and this week the Cardinals play the reigning AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
The team knows that it faces an uphill battle this week against the 4-2 Steelers. "You know what to expect with those guys (the Steelers), it's going to be a tough fought, hard fought football game," said Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald may have a long day on Sunday against Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, and Steelers pass defense which ranks number two in the NFL. "Ike Taylor is one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL, we always have good battles so I'm looking foreword to that challenge," said Fitzgerald.
Pittsburgh ranks in the top ten in the NFL in passing offense, rushing offense, total offense, total defense, and pass defense. With the Cardinals coming off a bye, the team looks to focus on fixing its problems rather than looking too much into the Steelers. The team had a players only meeting and then had four days off to refocus themselves.
"We have to prepare ourselves, later in the week we will focus on the Steelers," said Beanie Wells. Wells has scored four touchdowns in his last two games and might have a chance for a big game as the Steelers come into the contest with the 21st ranked rushing defense in the NFL.
"It's a little bit easier for the coaches, you don't have the time constraints because you got to spend some time last week, (preparing)" said Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt when asked about how the bye week changes the coaches' preparation for the game.
The Cardinals have had success against the Steelers at home in the past, beating the Steelers 21-14 at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2007.
The Arizona Cardinals return from their bye week with a home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coming off of four straight losses prior to the bye week, the Cardinals will look to turn over a new rock and string together some wins.
They get a tough opponent in the Steelers right off the bat. For all the talk this year about the aging Steelers defense (that has several players over the age of 30), Pittsburgh ranks best in the NFL in both overall defense (surrendering only 270.5 yards per contest) and passing defense (surrendering only 157.7 passing yards per game).
Those numbers present a challenge to Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb, who is feeling the pressure amidst the team's 1-4 start. He will have to dissect the Steelers secondary and approach his 256.2 passing yards per game average to help his teammates out and give Arizona a good chance at winning the game.
The Cardinals will have to rely on running back Beanie Wells, who will have a more favorable match-up against the Steelers run defense. Pittsburgh ranks 15th in the league against the run, allowing 112.8 yards per game. Wells, who is averaging 95.24 rushing yards per contest, needs to be efficient with his carries. Breaking off a few big runs could go a long ways in helping out Kolb against the unyielding Steelers secondary.
If Arizona can establish a running game behind Wells, they will create offensive opportunities and give themselves a chance to stay in the game. A big outing by Wells could help the Cardinals right the ship after the team's ugly 1-4 start and get a much-needed victory against the Steelers.
The 1-4 Arizona Cardinals return from their bye week and play the 4-2 Pittsburgh Steelers at home in Week Seven of the 2011 NFL season. According to the opening line, the Cardinals are four-point underdogs to the Steelers in this game.
The line seems uneven given Arizona's recent performance. Prior to the bye week, the Cardinals struggled to play well and lost in a 34-10 rout to the Minnesota Vikings. The team's performance in that game does not inspire much confidence.
Perhaps we are considering the Vikings loss too heavily, though. Outside of that blowout, Arizona lost its three other games (to the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants) by an average of just 2.67 points.
Also, the Cardinals are 1-1 this season at home. Three of Arizona's five games have been played on the road and, given the small two-game sample set of home games so far, it is still unclear how good the Cardinals can be at University of Phoenix Stadium.
If Arizona can come close to the 29.5 points it has averaged in two prior home games this season, the Cardinals could cover the four-point spread against a Pittsburgh team that ranks 22nd in the NFL in scoring offense. If the Cardinals instead replicate their play against the Vikings on Sunday, the four-point spread could prove to be far too generous.
Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett expresses his belief that the team will turn it around with 11 games left in the 2011 NFL season.
The Arizona Cardinals are searching for ways to turn around their season after a 1-4 start. Coming off the bye week, they will host the 4-2 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
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