The Arizona Cardinals were obviously pleased with their performance in the final game of the 2011 NFL preseason. The defense set the tone early by getting a couple "three and outs" and the offense moved the ball very well. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt gave credit to the offensive line for giving his quarterbacks time and he was very impressed with Richard Bartel.
"I think I liked to see Rich tonight do was stand in there and make the throws. He didn't seem rushed. He was very calm and it was good to get him those plays," Whisenhunt said.
He allowed that it was "fair to say" that Bartel is pushing John Skelton for the backup role. A lot will depend on how Skelton's ankle sprain is doing. He's said to be making progress but will be evaluated again next week.
"I think we have three good quarterbacks that we're really excited about," Whiz said.
Overall, the demanding head coach was pleased with how much progress the team made in training camp despite not having a full offseason, "We still got work to do but I can't compliment our players enough on how they worked and how they showed up on game days."
He's pleased with the attitude and effort on the team and is faced with several tough decisions when it comes time to cut the roster from its current 80 down to 53 by Saturday.
What's got Whisenhunt most excited, however, from the preseason is the plays he sees being made.
"We've got guys showing up all over the place making plays. That's what's exciting. That's probably the thing that was missing from our team last year was people making plays whether is starts with the quarterback or the offensive line or whether it was receivers showing up and making plays. That's exiting and it gives our players confidence."
The overall mode of the team is confidence and excitement. This group believes in itself and thinks they can have a very positive season. They are anxious to take the field on September 11 against the Carolina Panthers and prove it.
- Chansi Stuckey did well in the passing game but Whisenhunt said he didn't perform fully blocking in the run game.
- Tight end Jim Dray has a strain and there was no reason to put him back in. He will be evaluated tomorrow and hopefully it won't be bad.
- Alfonso Smith was available on an emergency basis but, "He worked hard to go but we didn't want to put him in a situation where he would hurt it again tonight."
- As for Duece Lutui, "This was a game where he had to show us something. It's been a battle the whole time. We know going in that he needed to lose weight in order to play like we thought he could play. It will be good to look at the tape and see where he is."
- Whisenhunt continues to say good things about rookie DL David Carter who played numerous reps at the outside position instead of at tackle. The coaching staff wanted to push him to see what he can do. The most positions he can play the better value he has on game day. Whisenhunt says he's got a good future in front of him.
- During a long field goal attempt by Denver, there was some confusion on the sideline and the Cardinals ended up only have eight men on the field. The Broncos missed the kick. "It was tough but I'll let it slide this time," Whisenhunt said.
- "I just want to make my case to contribute to this team any way possible. The decision-makers will make that decision. I'll just leave it at that," Rich Bartel said about his role. "This is the best opportunity I've ever had in my life."
- "We are putting our players in position to make plays and that's what makes a great defense," Hamza Abdullah said about the defense.
- Darnell Dockett is excited about the defense as well, "As good as we want it to be. (Defensive coordinator Ray Horton) is one of the fairest guys I have ever been around...He's a player's guy and he's going to put us in situations to win and make plays. At the end of the day it's about us. He can call anything he wants but if we don't go out and execute and do it with effort and heart, it doesn't mean anything."
- Stewart Bradley on his interception, "They ran some similar routes earlier in the game and I recognized it and sat over there. I'm happy he threw the ball to the same guy and I just tried to make a play."
- Bradley is still adjusting to the 3-4 defense. He likes the system which gives more freedom to the linebackers but is still adjusting. His goal is start at some point in the season, but, he says, that should be every players goal.