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Arizona Cardinals' tight end Todd Heap, who injured his thumb during the Cardinals' 24-18 preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders, seems to be showing progress in his recovery. Heap said today that his thumb "is getting better everyday."
Heap sprained his left thumb during the second quarter of Thursday's contest against the Raiders. He looked good while he was out on the field though, recording two receptions on two targets for 21 yards. Heap's likely back-up, Rob Housler, stepped in and also produced during the game. Housler caught two passes for 18 yards and one touchdown,
Heap himself admitted that the injury was not very serious. According to AZ Central, Heap said that he would have played through the injury on Thursday if it had been a regular season game. The preseason, however, is not about getting playing time for your starters. It is about giving minutes to your reserves and preserving the health of your players.
Heap has been active in practice over the past few days and should be active for the Cardinal's second preseason game against the defending champion Green Bay Packers.
TEMPE -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt and at least a few Cardinals players appeared at the team's headquarters Friday, after Whisenhunt was able to review Thursday night's preseason opening win at Oakland with a more discerning eye.
"As you would expect, a lot of things that we can work on, but for the most part, I was excited to see the number of different players make the plays that they did," Whisenhunt said. "We had some little technique things, especially defensively, as far as alignment and playing the right gap that I think would help us as far being a little more efficient in stopping some of their (Raiders') plays."
The theme of this news conference was what might have been had the Cardinals had offseason workouts, minicamps and such. Whisenhunt pointed out that the full team had only five days of practice in training camp together before the game Thursday.
"It's been a very hectic week-and-a-half that we've had these guys, but I think overall, just as an overall concept of what you're looking at, it wasn't bad," Whisenhunt said. "It wasn't as bad as maybe I thought it would be and probably a lot of people. But by no means are we a finished product."
"We have three preseason games left, we've got three weeks of practices left, so it's going to be determined by how they handle it and build on what they did last night over the course of the next couple of weeks," Whisenhunt said.
Tight end Todd Heap is not expected to miss any practice time, the coach said. Heap sprained his thumb early in the game. The Cardinals re-convene for training camp Sunday.
Whisenhunt thought his No. 1 offensive line made too many mental mistakes though the pass protection was good. That will only get better with more practices together, he said.
On running back Beanie Wells and the running backs, Whisenhunt said some of the unsuccessful runs were the byproduct of mental errors. One run near the goal line early in the game was a positive gain but the result of the tight end shifting to the wrong side and allowing Raiders' defenders plenty of space to tackle Wells, who gained yards on his own.
Wells "stepped up" in his pass protection, Whisenhunt said. He made progress from last season in that area.
There seemed to be more good than not-so-good overall.
"I really thought with the first groups, the communication as far as getting the defenses called, getting the offenses called, getting in and out of the huddle, was very good," Whisenhunt said. "From an operational standpoint... yeah, I was pretty pleased."
On rookie CB A.J. Jefferson, who played well: "He's fighting for a shot to play, and we're going to rotate all those guys throughout the preseason. Give them opportunities against the different groups that we are facing just so we'll have a good sense of where they are. But I can tell you this: A.J. responded last night. I thought he did a nice job."
Max Hall and the Arizona Cardinals got off to a strong start Thursday night as they completed a last-minute touchdown drive to defeat the Oakland Raiders 24-18. These games don't mean much, but hey, who honestly wants to lose? Here is some reaction from around the blogosphere:
A.J. Jefferson's play: Jefferson definitely has come a long way. Being undrafted has been a huge motivating factor. He got beat on one play, but as he told me on Twitter, "in Cover 2, i's hard for me to make that play inside." He responded with a pass breakup. He didn't get any turnovers. The way he is headed right now will certainly get him into the playing rotation and might make him a regular season starter.
John Skelton's comfort in running the offense: Last season, Skelton looked good...for a fifth-round project quarterback. He was not good. But he looked miles ahead of where he was a year ago. Accuracy was an issue last season. The TV guys (maybe it was postgame on the radio) talked about how he has an accurate arm. I'm not sure about that, but his confidence level definitely better. Don't confuse this with thinking he's ready to be a starter. He's not, but it was nice to see him looking more than a wide-eyed rookie.
Quarterback depth is never, ever, ever a bad thing.
All of us have to work out some kinks," Kolb said. "They've got to get used to my cadence in a live-game setting, getting out of the huddle. There are a lot of things that you can't duplicate in practice.
"It was kind of what you expected," Whisenhunt said. "I was happy to see us make some plays, especially with that first offense, as far as Kevin running the offense and Larry making some plays down the field. For a first game, especially with the limited amount of work of we had, that's exciting.
Kolb is a mobile quarterback, something the Cardinals haven't had under Whisenhunt. Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner and Derek Anderson didn't do much damage with their feet. Kolb can move. "That's why I tell those guys, just keep fighting. You get beat, just push them on by and I'll step up in the pocket and try to make a play," Kolb said.
I will say this, the game looked to me a lot like any other preseason game. In other words, it wasn't overly sloppy, it didn't reflect to the naked eye (or typical fan) the lost offseason or lack of practice time. We'll see if that holds true once games start for real.
The first preseason game that the Arizona Cardinals played against the Oakland Raiders was everything you figure a preseason game it be. It was long, it was at times sloppy, you see a bunch of players you will never hear of and there were a few really nice plays. All of that. In the end, Max Hall led Cardinals down the field for the game-winning touchdown with 39 seconds left, hitting Isaiah Williams to give Arizona the 24-18 win to start the preseason.
Kevin Kolb played the first quarter for the Cardinals and was 4/7 for 68 yards. The Cardinals failed to score while he was in the game, but he was able to connect with Larry Fitzgerald for two of the completions and 60 of the yards, including a 43-yard deep throw that was perfectly thrown and perfectly played by Fitz, who hauled it in one-handed.
John Skelton led the Cardinals to ten of their points and their first score, hitting Stephen Williams for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Richard Bartel came in for most of the second half and threw for a score, hitting rookie tight end Robert Housler to give Arizona a 17-15 lead.
But it was Hall, who drove the team down the field in five plays and 68 yards to win. He was 4/4 on the drive.
The defense showed it was stout when it counted. They allowed the Raiders to move the ball, but only gave up only one TD. Sebastian Janikowski hit four field goals, including a 57-yarder that gave Oakland the lead with just over two minutes left in the game.
Neither team had an interception, Only the Cardinals had a turnover -- a fumble.
Next up for the Cardinals is a game next week against the defending champion Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
With injuries, Todd Heap for Arizona sprained his thumb in the first half and Max Komar did not play with a tweaked groin. The Raiders lost safety Hiram Eugene in the second half.
For more Arizona Cardinals coverage, visit Revenge of the Birds.
One goal that teams have in the preseason is to avoid injuries. During the Arizona Cardinals preseason game versus the Oakland Raiders, one of the prized acquisitions left the game to the locker room because of an injury.
He left the game and he will not return.
The Cardinals have been fairly fortunate with injuries, save the torn bicep tendon that Adrian Wilson, so this will be a big blow to the team if Heap has to miss any time. Fortunately, the injury does not look or sound serious and it would not be surprising to see that he misses no other gametime.
The drive in which he was hurt eventually led to a score, a touchdown pass from John Skelton to Stephen Williams.
Catch more Cardinals coverage at Revenge of the Birds.
In the second preseason series, Kolb proved to the Cardinals faithful that he had a strong arm as well, connecting with Larry Fitzgerald multiple times, including a huge 43-yard pickup on a Go route that brought the Cards all the way to the Oakland 35.
Kolb located his pass to Fitz perfectly, landing the ball on his outside shoulder to avoid an interception attempt by the Raiders.
Two plays later, Kolb threw to Fitzgerald on a Stop route, hitting the receiver in stride on the right sideline for a 17-yard pickup.
While the offense was stymied at the 2-yard line on several unsuccessful rushing attempts by Beanie Wells, the offense is already showing a lot of potential and promise with Kevin Kolb under center for the Arizona Cardinals.
The Arizona Cardinals defense overall played pretty decent, but the Oakland Raiders scored first. Safety Rashad Johnson was called for a 50-yard pass interference penalty, but after that, the defense held it's ground.
Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 39-yard field goal.
The penalty against Johnson was questionable, but nonetheless, it is not the way he wants to be remembered when he needs to show that he can play competently in the place of injured Adrian Wilson.
More to come during the game. Visit Revenge of the Birds for more.
With the ball placed on the 20-yard line, Kolb lined up under center with a trips formation on his left, which shifted to an Offset I presnap. The handoff to Beanie Wells was smooth, but the blocking wasn't there and Wells was stopped for no gain.
On second down, Kolb had a Dual TE formation on his right. A linebacker blitz on his weak side forced him to overthrow Larry Fitzgerald, who was lined up on his left.
Third down came quickly, and Kolb rose to the occasion. Feeling the pressure of Oakland's defensive line, Kolb tucked the ball and took off down the right side of the field, gaining 15 yards and flashing his impressive speed.
At the 35-yard line, Kolb and the Cardinals attempted a swing play, but Early Doucet couldn't break free for a gain. On second down, Kolb rolled out to the right and nearly completed a pass to Jeff King, but the pass was batted down and nearly intercepted.
On third down at the 34-yard line, Kolb was lined up in a shotgun formation with two running backs. Not liking what he was seeing, Kolb tried to relive the running magic and bolted up the middle, but was sacked for a loss by the Raiders.
All in all, Kolb looked good on his first possession, but there's a long way to go before the Cardinals can call this offense a finished product.
Just minutes before kickoff of the preseason game between the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders, it looks like An Arizona Diamondbacks game facing the Houston Astros. Most have been figuring that attendance would be huge considering the crowds teams have had in training camps because of the loss of football in the offseason.
I guess in California the preseason is no big deal. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic tweeted a photo of the stadium, where it looked like, in the words of Somers, "a JV game."
Usually against the Raiders you face a much larger, more rabid crowd. However, it is a weekday evening. For other sports, California fans are notoriously late.
The game is on. It will be the smallest crowd the Cardinals see. After all, they had 13,000 faithful in Flagstaff for a scrimmage.
Many people would tell you that the preseason is boring to watch because most of the game it is the reserves and scrubs playing against other reserves and scrubs. In that sense, yes, it can be a bit tiresome, especially when there are the mistakes that come from the first week of the preseason. As the Arizona Cardinals send Kevin Kolb to be their field general for the first time in game action against the Oakland Raider, you have to watch the game for certain things to hold your intrigue, just in case you need something to do that.
Here are a few:
How Kolb looks overall: I don't want to read too much into one performance, but focus on the whole. Is he generally on the same page as his receivers? Is the ball looking good in general? Are his decisions the right ones?
Offensive line performance: How big are the holes that are opened up for Beanie Well, Ryan Williams and the other guys on the roster? How much time do the quarterbacks have? Are there pre-snap penalties?
How Rashad Johnson plays: Johnson has some pressure on him with Adrian Wilson out. The team has been waiting for him to step up. Will he be in the right places during the game? Does he stand out at all?
Pass coverage by cornerbacks: The young core of Greg Toler, Patrick Peterson, A.J. Jefferson and Richard Marshall have a lot of potential. Jefferson has gone from undrafted a year ago to currently number one on the depth chart. How do the lot of them look in coverage? With DRC gone, that is a concern.
Early Doucet: Does he stay healthy?
Offensive formations: I have speculated for a couple of weeks that the offensive looks will change with the tight end position now being a strength. How often will the offense come out in four-receiver sets? It was the most frequently used personnel package in 2010.
Sustained offense: Although the preseason is not always an accurate way to gauge things, the 2010 offense stalled a lot in the preseason and never stopped stalling. How many sustained drives do they have?
Obviously, there are several other things, but those are a good few to start with. Keep a roster close by. You will see a lot of numbers and players you will not know.
But if there is one thing to overlook, it is the actual scoreboard. Cardinals fans know that from years of 4-0 preseasons only to follow them up with four or five-win seasons.
After months of the NFL lockout, football is officially back. And now it isn't even practice (cue up the Allen Iverson audio), it's a real game. Kevin Kolb and the Arizona Cardinals are in Oakland to face off against the Raiders in their first preseason game. No, it's not a "real" game, but after the offseason we went through, it seems everyone is chomping at the bit, including the players.
The joy of the first preseason game for the players is the fact that they get to hot someone else other than teammates. There is not red jersey for the quarterback -- those pass rushers are going to try to put him to the ground.
Naturally, winning is important to teams in the preseason, but it is not the most important objective as it is in the regular season. But no one should get all worked up if the Cardinals do not beat the Raiders.
Both teams are in transition. Oakland has a new head coach. The Cardinals have a new defensive coordinator in Ray Horton. The Cardinals have a new quarterback, but that QB has only had one week of practice with the team due to veteran restrictions on new or restructured contracts.
As all preseason games go, it will end up a game of scrubs against scrubs. Coaches need to evaluate players with actual game film. While Kolb will go a little longer than is normal, he certainly is not playing the whole game or even the whole first half.
So, while we can be excited that football is here, let us not get discouraged based on what happens in preseason week one. Over the years of terrible play, there were many 4-0 preseasons. That got them nothing. Last year, in the abysmal depths of 5-11, the team started off their year with a 3-1 preseason record.
The game starts at 7PM and will be broadcast locally on ABC-15. Radio coverage on KTAR News-Talk 92.3 at 4:30 PM.
Get more Arizona Cardinals coverage and commentary on Revenge of the Birds.
Football games are finally here. Although with the NFL lockout it looked like the start of he preseason might have been lost, the Arizona Cardinals begin their quest to attempt to reclaim the NFC West title they relinquished in 2010 to a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team. The Cardinals' path begins with a preseason contest Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland.
Since we all will want to watch or listen here is the big information you need to know.
The game will be televised locally in the Phoenix area on ABC TV-15. Kickoff is at 7:00 PM Arizona time. Their TV coverage begins at 6:30.
On the radio side of things, came coverage begins on FM 92.3 KTAR at 4:30 PM.
If you cannot watch the game live, it will be replayed on Saturday at 12:30 PM Arizona time on FSN AZ.
Another viewing option the NFL is providing is online streaming of all games. There is a subscription, but you can watch and rewatch games on-demand.
For in-game discussion, be sure to visit the open thread there will be on Revenge of the Birds. There will be game coverage there and here as well.
Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Arizona time we will get our first look at the 2011 Arizona Cardinals in live NFL action. Preseason games in the NFL take on more meaning than other sports, but then again, everything in the NFL's compressed schedule and heightened media (and fan) environment is more important than other sports. And for Cardinals Ken Whisenhunt, even winning this exhibition game matters.
"It will be a great chance for us to play together as a team and obviously we want to win the game because that's important for us. We're going to try and put our guys in the best position," Whisenhunt said on Monday.
Winning might be important, but game prep for this first preseason game is anything but normal.
Not only have the Raiders changed much of what they do with the addition of a new coach and many new players, the Cardinals are very much focused on their own situation. Without a mini-camp and OTAs to learn how to play with new quarterback Kevin Kolb and new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the team is playing catch up.
Whisenhunt explains the plan, "We'll refine it, cut it down and give our players a list of the things that we're going to run in the game and work on those in practice over the next couple of days so that when we play Thursday night we'll be able to play fast and be able to adjust to whatever different looks."
The coach says he's excited to see what the team can do but acknowledges it "won't be perfect".
For more on the Arizona Cardinals, visit Revenge of the Birds.
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