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The Arizona Cardinals defense got lit up by rookie QB Cam Newton. How they react will say a lot about how this season goes.
It is nearly impossible to come out of an NFL football game without an injuries. For the most part the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers avoided anything major. The Panthers probably got the worst of it with Jon Beason being carted off the field with an ankle injury. Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington suffered a calf strain in the second half and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling took a shot to his arm and hand.
Washington is a key defensive player for the Cardinals. He came up big in his Week 1 game with two interceptions (one reversed due to a questionable call). Washington hurt his right calf later in the game and didn't return. He's schedule for an MRI on Monday but the general sense is that it's not a serious injury. More information should be available later in the week.
Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling got hit on his arm and is being evaluated for a bicep and hand injury. More on his status and availability will also have to wait until later in the week.
If Washington can't play in Week 2 against the Redskins, look for both Reggie Walker and Stewart Bradley to fill in well. Walker played against the Panthers after Washington left the field and played well according to coach Ken Whisenhunt. Bradley is still adjusting to the 3-4 defense and just needs more time to get comfortable.
If Stephens-Howling can't play, Patrick Peterson would move up to return kickoffs while Chester Taylor should be ready to take reps at running back. Taylor only had three days practice after being acquired by the Cardinals and wasn't active for Week 1. He thinks he'll be ready for the next game.
For the Panthers, Beason is a big blow. He'd been struggling with Achilles tendon issues and pulled up hurt after trying to chase down Cardinals TE Jeff King from behind.
Big plays and key moments are what make football games. Here's 10 from the Cardinals win over the Panthers that changed the game.
The NFL is a quarterbacks' league. We saw that on the opening night of the season with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees airing it out in Green Bay. Here in Arizona last season we missed having a quarterback who could get anything done. By all accounts Kevin Kolb has solved that problem.
Kolb was the first to admit that he needs to improve and said, "We're lucky to win a game like that." By that he means getting deep into the red zone twice in the first half and not coming away with any points.
After a very impressive 54-yard scoring possession to open the game, the offense twice failed to covert after long drives. Early in the second quarter, Kolb moved the ball down to the Carolina four yard line and had exactly the right play called, a pitch to Beanie Wells who was going to run around the left side and straight into the end zone.
"It was a bad pitch. I think he'd probably say he took his eyes off of it, I'd tell you it was a bad pitch," Kolb said about the turnover that killed the drive. On the plus side, it was the only Cardinals turnover of the game.
On the very next drive, Kolb moved the team 58 yards in nine plays and was within five yards of scoring before WR Andre Roberts was flagged for an illegal crackback block that cost 15 yards. To make matters worse, the normally reliable Jay Feely missed a 36-yard field that could have proved very painful in this close game.
Overall, Kolb had a very good first game. He went 18-27 for 309 yards through air with no interceptions and two touchdown passes. His passer rating was 130.
"I like the fact that versus pressure he hit some plays and made some big throws. I think the one there at the end of the game where he threw it to Larry (Fitzgerald) on the fade on the third down, that may have been the best throw I've seen him make and he's made some good throws," Ken Whisenhunt said about his new quarterback.
Both of Kolb's touchdown passes -- a 48-yard pass to TE Jeff King and a 70-yard completion to WR Early Doucet -- both came against blitz pressure. Kolb said he recognized where the blitz was coming from and in both cases was able to find the open man.
"I'm not sure we would have won that game last year so I was proud of the way our team responded and answered. We've got a lot of things we've got to clean up," Whisenhunt said about the Cardinals performance.
Defensively, there's a lot to question for the Cardinals. Whisenhunt pointed out that this is what can happen to young cornerbacks but at the same time, he (appropriately) gave credit to Cam Newton and the Carolina receivers.
The Panthers put up a lot of numbers (477 total yards) but several of the big plays came against the blitz and can't be blamed entirely on the defensivebacks left on an island. If you are going to bring that kind of pressure, you have to get to the quarterback fast enough to disrupt his throw.
Newton pointed out that there wasn't anything the Cardinals threw at him that he wasn't ready for, "The Cardinals did an excellent job of disguising, but throughout the week, coach (Rob) Chudzinski and coach (Mike) Shula) just simplified everything for me. Everything that we saw on film, they pretty much did."
The Cardinals did sack Newton four times for 19 yards and they held him to just 18 yards running.
The defense looked most effective when they were able to get pressure from the edges while rushing only four guys. Without having seen the film yet, it seems that O'Brien Schofield was effective in that role.
The Cardinals gave up a lot of yards and let Newton set a record for rookie QB passing, but holding an opponent to 21 points in today's NFL isn't horrible. The Cardinals got a big interception and had three fewer penalties than their opponent and recorded two more sacks. Take away the fumble and missed field goal, and this is a very different game.
The Panthers came extremely close to tying the game late but in the end, Patrick Peterson's punt return for a touchdown was enough to give Arizona the first win of the season.
For more on this game, visit Revenge of the Birds.
The Arizona Cardinals pass defense was absolutely shredded by the new leader of the Carolina Panthers, the phenomenally talented Cam Newton. The number one draft pick from Auburn has put the ball up deep on multiple occasions, and has made the Cardinals look absolutely silly. He found Steve Smith for a scorching 77 yard touchdown early (his first touchdown throw in the NFL), he nailed Legedu Naanee for 21 yards and Brandon LaFell for 24 yards on the next drive, then found Smith again for another 26 yard touchdown just before the end of the first half to give Carolina a 14-7 halftime lead.
Newton's cannon arm would then find Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen for 22 and 43 yard hookups, and then Newton would rush it in for a 1 yard touchdown to give Carolina a 21-14 lead in the third. He would then manage another seven hookups of ten yards or more through the rest of the second half (including three on the last drive of the game) to get the Panthers into scoring position late, but could not quite get them into the end zone.
Newton's final throw--a pass to Mike Goodson over the middle that came up a yard or two short of first and goal at the one--put him at 422 passing yards on the day, shattering the Week 1 rookie debut record (302 yards by Peyton Manning) and tying the overall single-game rookie record held by Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions. There's a lot of hope now for the Panthers franchise, but Newton's efforts (and those of his wide receivers) weren't enough to lead them to victory over the Cardinals.
Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb has this to say about Newton, "Great player. It's obvious he's a gamer...He's big, strong, athletic, fighter -- he's everything your going to want and they're going to be fine with him. He made some big plays for them, I'm just glad we made one more."
Coming in to Week 1 of the NFL season, there weren't high expectations for the Carolina Panthers or rookie quarterback Cam Newton. However, Newton and his Panthers gave the Cardinals all they could handle. After holding the Panthers inside the 10-yard line on fourth down and a punt return for a touchdown by Patrick Patrick as Arizona scored late on a Patrick Peterson punt return for a touchdown, the Cardinals held off the Panthers 28-21 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The game was a series of dodged bullets for the Cardinals. Newton showed off his abilities with 422 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also scored a rushing touchdown. He Broke Peyton Manning's record for passing yards in a debut. Manning threw for 305 yards in his debut.
He found Steve Smith on numerous occasions, who was frequently matched up against Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals' first round pick in the 2011 draft. Smith caught both touchdowns and had eight receptions for 178 yards.
Kevin Kolb played a great game and showed that he is nothing like Derek Anderson or any other of the 2010 quarterbacks. He finished throwing 18-27 for 309 yards and two TDs. He was not picked off. He spread the ball around effectively. Eight players had receptions.
Beanie Wells had an effective game with 90 yards on the ground on 18 carries, but made a crucial error early in the game when he fumbled in the red zone.
The Cardinals defense struggled against the pass, as evidenced by the 422 passing yards allowed, but was solid in run defense. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 56 total rushing yards on 19 carries.
This was supposed to be one of the Cardinals' easiest games on the schedule. It looked much harder than it should have been, but Cam Newton was much better than expected. They start out the season 1-0 like a year ago. Hopefully unlike last year they can build upon the win and improve.
Both Cam Newton and Kevin Kolb looked impressive at times in their first action of the 2011 NFL season. Newton completed two touchdown passes to Steve Smith to give the Carolina Panthers a 14-7 halftime lead over the Arizona Cardinals.
Newton did a good job moving in the pocket reacting to pressure. On his first scoring play, he reacted to a blitz and found a wide open Steve Smith for a 77-yard touch down. At the end of the half, Newton was once again able get enough time in the pocket to find Smith in the end zone for a 26-yard completion. Rookie Patrick Peterson had good coverage but Smith ripped the ball down to complete the score.
Kolb did a good job finding a variety of receivers to engineer an early scoring drive. The Cardinals put together two other long drives into the red zone but both were ended by mistakes. The first was killed by a Bean Wells fumble at the Panther 10-yard line. On the second, the Cardinals were pushed back by a 15-yard penalty on Andre Roberts and then saw Jay Feely miss a 36-yard field goal attempt.
There were positive signs for the Arizona offense that totaled 206 yards with a good mix of running and passing. Wells had ten carries for 71 yards. Kold spread the ball around finding seven different targets, with Todd Heap leading the way with 40 yards on two completions. Larry Fitzgerald finished the half with 28 yards on two catches.
Kevin Kolb was 12-15 for 139 yards and took two sacks. Cam Newton was 9-13 for 198 yards with two touchdowns and also took two sacks. He ran for 11 yards.
The Cardinals are very much in this game if they can clean up the mistakes and not give up any more big plays. Newton and the Panthers offensive line have shown they can handle the blitz and make the Cardinals pay.
For more on this game, visit Revenge of the Birds.
The Arizona Cardinals wasted no time sending a message that they fully intend to compete this year. They blitzed the Carolina Panthers on their first drive and recorded a sack on Cam Newton. After getting the ball back in good field position, Kevin Kolb engineered a well-balanced drive to put the first points on the board for the 2011 NFL season.
The Cardinals drive started with a nine-yard rush for Beanies Wells and ended with a seven-yard touchdown run from Wells. The offensive line, specifically Levi Brown, gave up a sack that put Kolb in a second and 21 situation, but a nice through to Early Doucet converted the third down.
The first scoring drive of the season went for six plays, 54 yards and took 3:42 off the clock. Kolb was 2-2 for 36 yards and Wells went for 16 yards on two carries.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, their pressure defense backfired on the Panther's second possession. Facing a third and seven, Arizona blitzed but Newton was able to hang on long enough to find a wide open Steve Smith for a 77-yard touchdown.
The game was tied 7-7 in the first quarter.
The Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers are less an hour away from kicking off the 2011 NFL season. Both the Cardinals and Carolina Panthers have released their inactive lists. The backup quarterback decisions for teams stand out.
The Cardinals have listed Richard Bartel as the backup quarterback to Kevin Kolb. John Skelton was considered the number two QB for most of the preseason but his ankle sprain obviously set him back. Bartel helped make the decision easy by playing so well in the final two preseason games.
Another interesting decision was to pick rookie wide receiver DeMarco Sampson over Stephen Williams. Cornerback Mike Adams was thought to have been making progress on his knee rehab but he's inactive as well. Newly signed running back Chester Taylor also won't play.
Arizona Cardinals inactive list for Week 1 vs. Panthers
The eyes of football fans around the country will be on Arizona on Sunday afternoon to watch two new starting quarterbacks. Number one overall pick Cam Newton will get the ball for the Carolina Panthers while Kevin Kolb takes the hopes and dreams of Cardinals fans on his shoulders.
"It's a big game for us being at home. Look, we just got to get this thing started off right. After last season, after all the new faces around here, we're very excited and focused to make sure we come out on the right foot," Kolb said this week.
Newton will have a tall task starting in Week 1 of his rookie season. This year especially will be difficult given the lockout which eliminated a good portion of the normal offseason preparation time.
The Cardinals are expecting the Panthers to simplify the offense for Newton but they are still very respectful of his talents and ability to make plays with his feet. According to defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the Cardinals are going to attack Newton, "He's a talented kid we're going to respect but we're going to respect him with pressure."
Kolb understands very well that he needs to get off to a fast start and quickly put away any lingering doubts the fans and even his teammates might have about this quarterback with just seven career starts.
Kevin is saying all the right things and his chemistry with Larry Fitzgerald seems to be developing very fast. Kolb's plan is to prepare for what he expects the Carolina defense to use against him but not to overthink it.
"There's a fine line between still playing the game and being prepared," Kolb said. He likes to talk about going out and just "playing ball".
Newton is expected to struggle early in his NFL career. He'll be forgiven a bad game or games as he learns to make his way as an NFL quarterback. But over time he's expected to grow into a franchise player for the Panthers.
The Cardinals have big hopes for this season. They absolutely think they can win the division and get back to the playoffs and much of that pressure rests on Kolb's shoulders. A poor showing in Week 1 will deflate a lot of dreams.
You've gotta love Darnell Dockett. The eight-year defensive tackle for the Arizona Cardinals has an entertaining Twitter presence and isn't afraid to speak his mind on the social media platform. He's loud, blunt and entertaining.
Now there's another reason to like the guy. In honor of 9/11, Dockett got a very patriotic haircut. His new hair style features stars coursing the back of on one side of his head (click here) and stripes running the length of the other (click here).
It's a nice tribute to one of America's darkest and most moving moments. Sunday brings about the ten-year anniversary of Sept. 11th, 2001, when terrorists hijacked two planes and ran them into the Two Towers in New York. That day has become an emotional event that no one will ever forget. Surely every single person who was alive to see it can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the attack.
The haircut is a very appropriate and patriotic gesture by one of the Cardinals' most vocal players. Hats off to you, Dockett, for honoring the men and women who lost their lives on that fateful day.
The Arizona Cardinals kick off their 2011 NFL season on Sunday, September 11 at 1:15 p.m. (4:15 p.m. ET) at University of Phoenix Stadium. It's only the third time since the team moved to Phoenix 24 years ago that the Cardinals have opened the season at home. The game also marks the 56th consecutive sell out for the team which dates back to the opening of U o P Stadium in August 2006.
Here's some key information for your Sunday viewing or game attendance pleasure including TV broadcast schedule, parking information, ticket availability and a few other notes about the September 11 ceremony.
TV and radio broadcast information
Fox will have the television broadcast which, thanks to the sell out, will be available in the local market. Check your listings, but Fox is typically on channel 10 in the Phoenix market. Sam Rosen will have the play-by-play with Chad Pennington as his color analyst. Our own local (and fantastic) Jody Jackson will be on the sideline.
Cardinals radio will be on 92.3 FM (KTAR) with Dave Pasch and Ron Wolfley as the broadcasters and Paul Calvisi on the sideline. Cardinals Spanish radio is on 710 am (KBMB) and Jose FM 106.9/107.1 with Gabriel Trujillo and Rolando Cantu.
September 11 ceremony information
Prior to kickoff, there will be an in-stadium ceremony that will feature a live video on the scoreboard of the playing of TAPS from Arlington National Cemetery, the unfurling of a field-sized American flag by Military, Police and Firefighter volunteers, a moment of remembrance and silence. The national anthem performed by Grammy nominated platinum recording artist and Arizona native Jordin Sparks.
If you are coming to the stadium, a visit to the Pat Tillman Memorial located at the northwest side of the plaza might be in order.
Parking, tailgate and security information for University of Phoenix Stadium
Parking at U o P is always a tricky proposition if you don't have a pass. For more more parking information and updates, click here.
Game day parking lots, Sportsman's Park and the Great Lawn open four hours before kickoff at 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Gates to University of Phoenix Stadium open 90 minutes before kickoff. Fans can enter the stadium starting at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Fans entering the stadium can expect pat down hand searches. Click here for a list of items prohibited inside University of Phoenix Stadium. For more information, call the Game Day Phone Hotline: 623-433-7156 or text "Cards" <space> Issue and Location to 57375 during the game.
Even though the game is a sellout, there are a limited number of tickets returned from the visiting team allotment. Those interested should call 602-379-0102 or visit azcardinals.com. There are also tickets available on the secondary market. Our partnership with TiqIQ can help you there, just visit this page for lots of ticket options.
As the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers prepare for their Week 1 meeting, both teams have released their official injury reports. With the NFL season just getting under way, neither side is facing any major injury issues and there should be no fantasy football implications.
For the Cardinals, tight end Jim Dray is out with a strained pectoral muscle suffered in the final preseason game. Dray is fourth on the depth chart and likely would have only played on special teams if he dressed at all.
Carolina listed LB Jon Beason (ankle) and T Jeff Otah (knee) as questionable and G Mackenzy Bernadeau (toe) as probable. Otah didn't participate in practice on Friday while while Beason and Bernadeau were limited.
The Cardinals list CB Michael Adams (knee) and QB John Skelton (ankle) questionable. Skelton did practice Friday while Adams was limited. Listed as probable are: TE Rob Housler (groin), CB Korey Lindsey (illness), WR DeMarco Sampson (hamstring), RB Alfonso Smith (hamstring), S Adrian Wilson (biceps)
Here are your 2010 Arizona Cardinals captains.
For more on Cardinals football, check out Revenge of the Birds.
The Arizona Cardinals did not have a good defense last year. They did not have a good offense either and so they went out and got a new quarterback and altogether are expected to have seven new guys starting on that side of the ball. The defense is another story. They have four new starters and made a few other personnel changes, but the difference this year will be the boss, defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
Horton was hired in from his job as the defensive backs coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers and he's promising a new approach. It all starts in Week 1 with Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback, Cam Newton.
"He's a talented kid we're going to respect but we're going to respect him with pressure," Horton said.
In other words, the Arizona Cardinals defense is bringing the house according to Horton, "We're going to pressure. That's what we do. I don't care if they know it, we're coming after 'em."
The players are happy about that. They want the opportunity to get after it on defense and they love having the support of their coaching staff.
"We know coach is going to be aggressive and that's the way we like it and that's the way we want to be. Just go out there and win or lose on our own terms," veteran safety Kerry Rhodes said.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt says the key for Newton, or any other QB, isn't so much about the pressure, it's about doing something the team struggled with in 2010.
"You don't have to get after a young quarterback or any quarterback to make it difficult," Whisenhunt said. "If you play your defense the right way and you play it together as a group you can make it difficult on a quarterback. We didn't play it together enough last year to make it difficult on very many guys."
The Cardinals didn't blitz much in the preseason and they certainly didn't show all of their defensive game plan. With the new defensive coordinator and the lockout-shortened offseason, Horton still hasn't put in all his tricks but he promises that there will be enough ready for Week 1 to get numbers moving towards the QB.
And one guy to keep an eye on, Horton says, is veteran linebacker Joey Porter who is three sacks short of 100 for his career, "I expect him to be a crazy man out there."
Aggressive blitzing will put extra pressure on the young starting cornerback tandem of Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson. Fortunately, the first three games of the season won't pit them against quality passers. Rookie Newton in Week 1 will be followed by Rex Grossman in Washington and then Tavaris Jackson in Seattle.
It will be a good test for Horton's new defense and the young corners. If they pass, the defense will have a lot of confidence rolling into a meeting with Eli Manning in Week 4 and then veteran Donovan McNabb in Week 5.
The Arizona Cardinals have a simple goal for their first game of the 2011 NFL season, execute. Winning would be nice too, but from a strategic stand point, what coach Ken Whisenhunt is looking for on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers is a high-tempo and few mistakes.
To help that along, he's limited the playbook for this week, "The biggest thing for us in the first game is being able to play fast and execute the plays, no matter what you get," Whisenhunt said. "If you have too many things it dilutes your ability to operate efficiently."
The team understands where it is now and expects to make mistakes. This the first step in the process that will hopefully result in a team that's playing in the postseason according to quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Defensively, there's a lot of respect for what Panther's quarterback Cam Newton can do. Even though this is his first NFL start, they are not taking him for granted. The Cardinals want to be a pressure-oriented defense this year and it will start on Sunday.
"I think Greg (Toler) got hurt. That's my thoughts on it," Whisenhunt said about Peterson being named a starter. He repeated that it's always need a question of "when" and not "if" with Peterson so now he'll just have to step up sooner.
The bigger test with Newton and the Panters will likely be on the linebackers and safeties. Newton, as we well know, likes to run the ball and is a beast in the open field. He's shown this preseason and in his college career that when he does throw, he often targets that tight ends.
That match-up works well for Arizona as it gives Peterson and Jefferson a bit less pressure in their first NFL start.
Adrian Wilson suffered a bicep tear early in camp and didn't play much through the preseason; he spent most of the offseason rehabbing it instead of having to get surgery that would have kept him out of football for a more prolonged period. But it looks like he's back and ready for the season as he was in full practice mode on Wednesday. Seth Pollack relayed this quote from defensive coordinator Ray Horton about what Wilson's status will be for the opening game.
"Is he going to be a little rusty? Yeah, I expect him to. But we'll try and cater the defense to him and make sure he's not asked to something he hasn't done in practice...One thing that kid does is he comes downhill very hard so you can expect him to come downhill very hard."
Pretty amazing recovery to come back from an injury this quickly. You have to wonder if Wilson is fully healthy, but he will play.
Other injury news.
The first Sunday of Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season happens to fall on September 11, a sacred day in American history. It's hard to believe, but this year will mark the 10th anniversary of those tragic events. All across the country there will be a variety of events commemorating the date and celebrating the valor and honor of those who have volunteered to defend our country.
Here in Arizona, this date always reminds of us Pat Tillman. Tillman represented everything that is great about America and while the cover-up surrounding his death were a disgrace, his life will always be deserving of recognition.
Prior to the Cardinals-Panthers kickoff, there will be an in-stadium ceremony that will feature a live video on the scoreboard of the playing of TAPS from Arlington National Cemetery, the unfurling of a field-sized American flag by Military, Police and Firefighter volunteers, a moment of remembrance and silence and then the national anthem performed by Grammy nominated platinum recording artist and Arizona native Jordin Sparks.
GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 12: Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 after quitting the NFL's Arizona Cardinals to join the U.S. Army Rangers, was honored with a statue outside the University of Phoenix Stadium before the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys November 12, 2006 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
The Arizona Cardinals face the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 of the NFL season. Both teams are very different from last year when the Panthers beat the Cardinals last in the season.
Cam Newton will be starting his NFL career for the Carolina Panthers against the Arizona Cardinals on opening weekend.
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