Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: A season of potential

Cardinals shrug off preseason offensive troubles

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[August 26, 2009]  TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals offense, so brilliant in the team's run to the Super Bowl, has been unproductive in the first two preseason games.

The only touchdown Arizona has scored came late in game one at Pittsburgh, with fourth-stringer Tyler Palko at quarterback.

Not to worry.

"It's preseason," All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.

Once the season starts for real, Fitzgerald believes the Cardinals will be their high-flying selves again.

"We are who we are," Fitzgerald said. "We're going to throw the football around and no matter who we're going to play against we're going to get it done."

Twice in Saturday night's 17-6 loss to San Diego, the Cardinals starters had the ball inside the 15-yard line.


The first came after rookie LaRod Stephens-Howling returned the opening kickoff 89 yards to the Chargers' 7-yard line. The Cardinals made it to the 2 but had to settle for a field goal after Kurt Warner's pass intended for Anquan Boldin was knocked out of the receiver's hands by Quentin Jammer.

Then Arizona drove to the San Diego 13, but Warner's pass intended for Fitzgerald was intercepted by Antonio Cromartie.

"You want to score every time out there, especially when you're in situations like we were in last weekend, so that part's always disappointing," Warner said, "but I think we've been clicking pretty good. We've been moving the football pretty good."

Fitzgerald has only one catch for eight yards, but he said after Tuesday's practice that nothing should be concluded from what has happened in two exhibition games because the Cardinals are not putting together a game plan targeting a specific opponent.

"We're not scripting who we're going to attack. None of that's going into account," he said. "You look at the defenses we were playing, they're two pretty solid defenses. And they weren't bland. (Pittsburgh defensive coordinator) Dick LeBeau was doing things we weren't expecting for a preseason game, especially the first week."

The Cardinals were one of the best teams in the league in red zone performance last season, and coach Ken Whisenhunt said he expects the same effectiveness once the regular season begins.

"It's more to me a function of not game-planning in the red zone," he said. "If we didn't have a track record for two years of being successful in that area of the field, then potentially it would be (a concern), but I'm not at this point."

Whisenhunt noted that it's the same offensive personnel who were together virtually the entire 20 games of last season.

"They've worked together in the scheme. Our offensive line has worked together in some of our checks down there," he said. "Obviously we're not doing that in the preseason because we want to save it for the regular season."

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A positive has been the running game. Tim Hightower has 66 yards on 15 carries. Rookie Beanie Wells has been sidelined with a sprained ankle but has practiced this week and is expected to play Friday night when the Cardinals are home against the Green Bay Packers.

Warner has completed 12 of 23 passes for 133 yards with one interception so far in the preseason. The statistics might not show it, but he said he's far more in tune with the offense than he was at this point last season, when he was battling Matt Leinart for the starting job.

"I feel better after these first two than I've felt in a long time," he said. "That's what the preseason is all about for me. I want to make good decisions. I know the throws and all that stuff will come, but I want to get comfortable with what I'm seeing, is the game slowing down, that I'm feeling pressure and those kinds of things."

For Warner, it's all about paying attention to the details. He and the rest of the starters will get more of a chance to find their rhythm when they play at least the entire first half against the Packers.

"We're just short-circuiting a little bit as we get tighter to the red zone," Warner said. "Those things are always a little bit of a concern, but you look at the positives and you focus on the negatives and how you can correct them."

[Associated Press; By BOB BAUM]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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