Extra time helps Cardinals get healthier, but offense still suffering from key absences.
By CRAIG MORGANFS Arizona
TEMPE, Ariz. – With only a short practice on Monday, the Cardinals have had a much-needed six-day break to heal some wounds following Thursday’s loss in St. Louis.
A few injured players returned to full practice on Wednesday, including right guard Adam Snyder and quarterback John Skelton; defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, tight end Todd Heap and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling were limited, but improved.
The lingering question is: Can the Cardinals heal their offense, which will face the
Buffalo Bills on Sunday minus its top two running backs (Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams), two key offensive linemen (Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges) and perhaps still without a tight end or two.
More to the point: Can a patchwork line that has allowed 17 sacks the past two games protect quarterback Kevin Kolb enough to aid a passing game that will need to carry the Cards while two backup running backs find their way?
“It’s always a combination,” quarterback Kevin Kolb said when addressing the unit’s protection woes. “Obviously, the line, they get blamed for it. It’s on me. It’s on communication from the very beginning … from the backs, the tight ends. It’s a team effort. It always is.”
Coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged that protection has been a focus this week.
“We’ve got to do a better job in our protection schemes and we’ve got to do a better job in our techniques,” he said. ‘That’s what we’ve been working on, and we worked on it some more today.”
TAKING THE TEMPERATURE
Following blowout losses the past two weeks -- 52-28 by New England; 45-3 by San Francisco – Bills coach Chan Gailey was asked if he was concerned about the morale of his 2-3 team.
“Sure you are,” he said. “You’ve got your head in the sand if you don’t worry about confidence, morale, all of those terms that we all use. I addressed it with the team and what we reminded them is that they’ve (rallied) before.”
Gailey said he hasn’t seen any signs that the coaching staff may be losing the team, but “they’d have to answer that.”
With regard to his 31st ranked defense (449.4 yards per game, 35.2 points per game), Gailey said a number of problems have plagued the unit from not getting up the field in creases to missed tackles.
“It was really more of the same from the week before and that’s not encouraging,” Gailey said of Sunday’s loss in San Francisco. “We’ve got to get back to basics. Sometimes we’ve got some guys trying to do things that we don’t need for them to do.”
Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams gave a more succinct analysis.
“We stink,” Williams said. “We have stunk the last two weeks. There’s a difference between being disappointed and discouraged. We’ve got a lot of football left to play, but that being said, we have to get a lot better fast.”
For the Cardinals: CB Michael Adams (hamstring), OLB Quentin Groves (hamstring), ILB Reggie Walker (head), CB Greg Toler (hamstring) and FB Anthony Sherman (knee) did not practice on Wednesday.
DT Darnell Dockett (hamstring), TE Todd Heap (knee), TE Jim Dray (knee), OLB O’Brien Schofield and RB LaRod Stephens-Howling were listed as limited, although Whisenhunt said Stephens-Howling participated fully in practice.
RB William Powell (head), QB John Skelton (ankle) and RG Adam Snyder (elbow) all practiced in full.
For the Bills: DE Mark Anderson (knee) and DT Spencer Johnson (ankle) have already been ruled out of Sunday’s game. OT Cordy Glenn (ankle), DT Spencer Johnson (ankle), OG Chad Rinehart (calf), OG Kraig Urbik (ankle) and DT Kyle Williams (ankle) did not practice.
S Jarius Byrd (chest) and C Eric Wood (foot) were limited. CB Aaron Williams (hand) and DE Mario Williams (wrist) practiced in full.