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[Cardinals] Special-teams blunders hinder chances

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  • [Cardinals] Special-teams blunders hinder chances

    Kent Somers and Tim Tyers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 13, 2004 12:00 AM

    The Cardinals special teams, normally reliable, contributed greatly to Sunday's 31-28 overtime defeat.

    They made at least five serious mistakes, ranging from Karl Williams mishandling a punt, to a missed field goal to three penalties.

    "In many ways, some of our players who made mistakes are guys who normally don't," coach Dennis Green said. "Karl Williams had not mishandled a punt this year." advertisement




    But in the second half, cornerback Duane Starks replaced Williams because Green was not happy with the production of the return team. Starks returned two punts for 22 yards.


    Back to school?


    ***** coach Dennis Erickson, who has three years left on his contract, is rumored to be Mississippi's top candidate for its coaching job. Also, Erickson is to meet with ***** owner John York today, and speculation is it's about his future with the team.

    But York denied Erickson's job is in jeopardy after the game and the meeting concerns other things, despite a two-win season.

    All this comes after Erickson reportedly told General Manger Terry Donahue this weekend that under no circumstances will he fire any of his assistant coaches.

    "Let me start by saying I am not going to answer any questions about meetings or the rumors out there," Erickson said after the game. "I am going to talk to you about this football game, and how hard we played, how they came back and all the things that happened today."


    Forget me


    Todd Peterson, a former Cardinals player in 1994 under Buddy Ryan, gave San Francisco its second win over Arizona with a 31-yard field goal in overtime.

    Peterson wasn't into self-adulation.

    "That's my job. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do? That's my role on the team," he said, when asked if he thought Erickson showed great confidence in him by deciding to kick the game winner on first down.

    "Don't talk about me, talk about (running back) Maurice Hicks. An undrafted free agent goes out and runs for over 100 yards. That's pretty cool."


    Lobbying effort


    Quarterback Josh McCown was nearly penalized for excessive celebration after scoring a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.

    McCown's helmet came loose as he scored and he pulled it off. An official threw a flag but it was waved off.

    "I wear that flimsy chin strap and my helmet tends to fall off," McCown said. "I didn't mean any disrespect by that, and I apologize because I didn't mean to pull it off."


    Injury update


    Right offensive tackle L.J. Shelton could be out for the remainder season after suffering an injury to his left knee.

    Shelton likely will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today to determine the severity. If he can't play, he'll be replaced by Anthony Clement.

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  • DJRamFan
    [Cardinals] Squandered opportunity
    by DJRamFan
    Kent Somers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 13, 2004 12:00 AM

    The Cardinals vowed to learn a valuable lesson from their loss to San Francisco in early October, when they imploded in the final minutes and lost in overtime.

    And they did. On Sunday, they stumbled around early, rather than late, frantically overcame a 25-point deficit in the second half but then lost in overtime 31-28.

    San Francisco has two victories this season, both in overtime over the same team by the same score. Kicker Todd Peterson ended both with field goals, his 31-yarder Sunday just a yard shorter than his one in October. advertisement




    "They came back on us almost like we did the last time we played them," ***** coach Dennis Erickson said.

    The Cardinals' playoff hopes have been harder to shed than a bad reputation, but Sunday's loss in front of 35,069 at Sun Devil Stadium surely did it. The loss dropped them to 4-9, extended their losing streak to four and assured them of a losing season, their 15th in 17 seasons in Arizona.

    "I don't know if there's even a lesson in this one," defensive end Bertrand Berry said. "It's a tough one to accept."

    The Cardinals concocted a marinade full of mistakes, many of them on special teams. Karl Williams mishandled a punt, leading to a ***** touchdown. Kicker Neil Rackers missed a 34-yard field goal. A penalty on an attempted field goal kept a ***** drive alive, and a block in the back on a kickoff return gave the Cardinals poor field position.

    And all of that happened in the first 11 minutes. It was an excruciatingly slow, incompetent start.

    "I'm at fault," coach Dennis Green said of the team's poor play in the first half. "I'm the head coach, so I'm at fault."

    When the ***** opened the second half with a 69-yard touchdown drive, their 28-3 lead looked insurmountable.

    Maybe it was the incredible embarrassment looming, but something seemed to click with the Cardinals. The defense held the ***** scoreless on five straight possessions. And the offense started to move, putting together touchdown drives of 87, 53 and 56 yards.

    Just like that, it was 28-25, with the Cardinals marching for the possible victory.

    Cornerback David Macklin's fumble recovery gave them the ball at the ***** 20 with 2:16 remaining, and they quickly moved to the 4.

    There, quarterback Josh McCown saw tight end Freddie Jones, open in the end zone.

    "I didn't think I could get any more wide open," Jones said. "I looked back and all I could see was the ball coming. I said, 'Oh yeah, that's game time. That's game time.' "

    But ***** cornerback Joselio Hanson came off his man, receiver Bryant Johnson, to knock the ball away, and the Cardinals...
    -12-13-2004, 11:06 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Cardinals] Starks glad to have hand in punt returns
    by DJRamFan
    Kent Somers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 18, 2004 12:00 AM

    Cornerback Duane Starks returned punts last week for the first time in four years, and he wouldn't mind doing it for the rest of the season.

    "As long as they give me the opportunity, I'm going to be out there," he said. "Hopefully, I showed enough spark to stay in there. I grew up playing quarterback. I grew up with the ball always in my hands. That's the only way I can get the ball, without it being an interception."

    Starks returned nine punts for Baltimore in 2000, averaging 15 yards a return, with two more than 20 yards. advertisement




    Cardinals coach Dennis Green wasn't happy with the production of Karl Williams, who has averaged 6.1 yards this season and muffed a punt last week against San Francisco.

    Starks took over and returned two punts for 22 yards. Green has declined to say who will return punts Sunday against St. Louis.


    He's back


    Rams quarterback Chris Chandler will start his second straight game, replacing Marc Bulger, who is out with a shoulder injury.

    Chandler, who was intercepted six times last week, will be backed up by Jamie Martin, coach Mike Martz said Friday.

    Rookie Larry Turner will start at left guard in place of Tom Nütten, who has knee and toe injuries.


    Comeback attempt


    Anthony Clement won the job at right tackle in training camp, then lost it and is now back in the starting lineup because of L.J. Shelton's season-ending knee injury.

    So Sunday's game is a chance at redemption for him.

    "I would prefer to have gotten it (the starting job) another way, but, hey, however you get it, you get it," he said. "I've been missing a whole lot. I just want to get back to playing again, get that feeling again.

    "I've been through a lot of ups and downs this whole season, but the only thing I can think about is getting on the field Sunday."


    Time to retire?


    Rams safety Aeneas Williams has an arthritic condition in his neck that will keep him out of Sunday's game and possibly the rest of the season.

    "He's got some things in there that can't be resolved within a few weeks," Martz said.

    That means Williams, 37 in January, might have played his last game.

    A former Cardinals player, Williams will deserve serious consideration for the Hall of Fame. He leads all active players with 55 interceptions.


    Failed attempt


    Quarterback John Navarre, who suffered a fractured finger two weeks ago, tried to throw in practice this week, and the results weren't pretty.

    "I'll try again next week," he said....
    -12-18-2004, 02:59 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Cardinals] Cards feeling defeated
    by DJRamFan
    4-9 record takes its toll on Green

    Tim Tyers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 14, 2004 12:00 AM

    The demeanor of Cardinals coach Dennis Green on Monday was that of a man ready to cut loose with a refrain from an old country song: "You ripped my heart out and stomped that sucker flat."

    The man who predicted a winning season and possible playoff berth upon his arrival had nothing good to say about his four-win team, or the way the season has transpired during his first season with the Cardinals.

    San Francisco, with only two wins, is considered the worst team in pro football. But both of its wins have come against the Cardinals, including Sunday's 31-28 win in overtime, so where does that leave the Cardinals? advertisement




    Emmitt Smith, the NFL's career rushing leader, said after Sunday's loss that the team is making elementary mistakes and insinuated that some of the problem is coaching.

    "You know," Green said, "everybody has their own opinion. I will reserve mine."

    To his credit, Green didn't dodge the issue when asked if he was worried about losing the attention of his team.

    "Absolutely," he said. "You worry about losing everybody. I don't think (owner) Mr. Bill Bidwill is very happy right now. I don't think he counted on hiring a new coach and having the new coach be 4-9. It's everybody. I don't think the fans counted on being 4-9. I know I didn't count on being 4-9 . . .

    "There is a chance to lose everybody when you get into a situation where you are not winning . . . "

    Green took on a huge task when he came to Arizona in January to rebuild the franchise. Yet, Sunday's loss guaranteed the Cardinals their 15th losing season in the past 17 years. The question now is, how much progress has been made?

    "I would hope to say a lot of things are better, but you know . . . sometimes we are in a bottom line business. In fact, most of the time we are.

    "We only had 35,000 people there (Sunday). That's not a very big crowd, not a lot of people for the fifth-largest city in America. That's not a lot of people who want to come and watch you play in your stadium."

    In Sunday's game there were five major errors on special teams, the offense didn't report for duty until the second half and Arizona's gambling defense was once again porous against the run. Nondescript Maurice Hicks, an undrafted free agent, not only became the eighth rusher to top 100 yards against Arizona, but his 139 yards came within 5 yards of matching his season total entering the game.

    Green said the Cardinals are not physical enough at the point of attack against the run. They've tried to offset that with blitzes, but sometimes the formation takes away the blitz and the lack of physicality...
    -12-14-2004, 11:30 AM
  • Nick
    Things continuing to come undone in Arizona
    by Nick
    James angered by lack of running plays
    Kent Somers
    The Arizona Republic
    Oct. 9, 2006 12:00 AM

    Running back Edgerrin James harshly criticized the team's play-calling after Sunday's 23-20 loss to Kansas City, saying the Cardinals didn't run the ball enough in the fourth quarter.

    "We just got away from the run," said James, who gained 71 yards on 24 carries. "That's the stupidest thing. You have to be able to finish the game. You got to give us a chance, you know."

    James carried four times for 10 yards in the fourth quarter.

    Beginning with a possession that started with 9:29 remaining, the Cardinals passed on four consecutive plays. They were leading 20-17.

    "That's like something new to me," James said. " I thought we played to win the game. You sit back and you wait and you say, 'OK, this is when my opportunity will come, this is when we're gong to wear them down and we're go to play to win the game.' But it's like we're doing the opposite."

    The Cardinals did try to run on the last possession of the third quarter. James gained 9 yards on first down but was stopped on second and third downs.

    Coach Dennis Green said that probably had something to do with the decision to pass later.

    "We've got a certain amount of confidence in our passing attack," Green said. "I don't know if that's misplaced or not. And we don't have as much confidence in the running game, and I don't know if that's misplaced or not, to be honest with you. When you're 1-4, you're not sure of anything."

    MRI for Fitzgerald
    An MRI exam today should reveal the severity of Larry Fitzgerald's right hamstring injury, sustained during the first quarter Sunday.

    The Pro Bowl receiver said he injured it on a "pretty stupid play." The ball went to the opposite side of the field and he tried to position himself for a block.

    "I was trying to crack back on a guy, and he just kind of moved out of the way at the last minute," Fitzgerald said. "When I was lunging, he wasn't there. I felt it pop on me."

    Fitzgerald had caught two passes for 15 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass from Matt Leinart, but he knew he was finished for the day.

    "I couldn't even straighten my leg out, so I knew I (couldn't) continue," he said.

    Green considered the injury "fairly serious," but Fitzgerald refused to speculate.

    Two thoughts
    Down 17-10 at halftime, Kansas City coach Herm Edwards had two thoughts: The score could have been worse, and the Chiefs couldn't afford to allow the Cardinals to score another touchdown.

    "If we let them score one more touchdown, it's over," he said. "We did a pretty good job of that, holding them...
    -10-10-2006, 09:13 AM
  • Nick
    Cardinals' Shipp may be out entire season
    by Nick
    Injuries may sideline Shipp for season
    Kent Somers
    The Arizona Republic
    Aug. 8, 2004 12:00 AM

    FLAGSTAFF - Marcel Shipp's ankle injury is more serious than first thought, and there's a strong chance the backup running back is out for the season.

    Additional tests revealed a fractured left fibula that will require surgery. Shipp also suffered a dislocated ankle when he was tackled during Friday night's scrimmage.

    Doctors probably will have to insert pins to repair the fracture, coach Dennis Green said Saturday. Shipp won't be able to do much for two to three months at least, which would put his return into October, at the earliest.

    It's unlikely the Cardinals would keep a roster spot open for him that long. If he's placed on injured reserve, it would mean he's out for the season.

    "I think we'll just take our time and make sure he's on the mend," Green said, "and then we'll look at the rest of it later."

    The Cardinals have no plans to add a running back, Green said. Josh Scobey and Damien Anderson, both of whom joined the team in 2002, will compete for the No. 2 job behind Emmitt Smith. Rookie free agent Larry Croom has been impressive early in camp.

    "I'm just really sick to my stomach," Scobey said of Shipp's injury. "It's going to be pretty tough to fill those shoes."

    Anderson has the most experience, having played in 26 games since making the team as an undrafted rookie two years ago. He was involved in a serious car accident in January but has fully recovered.

    Scobey, a former sixth-round pick, returned kicks last year but has never carried the ball from scrimmage.

    "Josh and I have competed since we got here," Anderson said. "It's nothing new. Just being in this game, you are going to have to compete every year."

    Green wouldn't say if Scobey or Anderson had an edge for the job.

    "We don't have to worry about that right now," he said. "We've got guys who want to be good players. Right now we're just going to worry more about Marcel."
    -08-08-2004, 11:04 AM
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