Cards show signs of rust on offense, carryover on defense in Red and White practice.
By CRAIG MORGANFS Arizona
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. --Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt urged caution two days before the club’s annual Red and White practice Saturday at Northern Arizona University.
With a mere three days of practices under their belts -- and even less in full pads -- the Cards were likely to look rusty.
Whisenhunt was partially right. Aside from goal-line situations, the offense managed just one touchdown between the top two quarterbacks, and that was a 14-yard pass from Kevin Kolb to tight end Rob Housler that probably should have been ruled down before the goal line. Kolb tossed two interceptions playing behind a third-string center, John Skelton overthrew several receivers, wideouts dropped balls and the line couldn’t muster much in the run game.
“We need to complete more passes when we get opportunities, we need to protect, we need to run block, we need to do everything,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “We’re running our base offense. This is stuff that we should be able to do in our sleep.”
But maybe not against the Cardinals defense, which gave an early hint that it is ready to build off of last season’s strong finish. Nose tackle Dan Williams and ends Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett were stout at the point of attack, Sam Acho was in the backfield a lot, reserve linebacker Reggie Walker (interception) jumped out from the crowd, Adrian Wilson held up at the last millisecond instead of blowing up Ryan Williams on a hit, and cornerback Patrick Peterson had a couple pass breakups that drew noise from the record 14,500 (or so) fans in attendance.
Peterson was also involved in the most controversial play of the day -- and the offense’s best play, to boot. The second-year corner got sucked inside on a run play, and running back Ryan Williams cut the play outside to take it all the way to the 7-yard line for a 44-yard gain before free safety Kerry Rhodes tracked him down.
Peterson insisted he would have tackled Williams in the backfield if the practice had allowed full contact. Williams had a different opinion, which the officials backed.
“I’ve never seen a tackle made by a guy swiping at the ball,” Williams said. “I didn’t feel anything on my body. I just felt a swipe on the ball.”
Skelton and Kolb took most of the snaps, with Rich Bartel and Ryan Lindley getting one series each. Aside from one series in which Kolb threw five straight completions, including a perfect ball on an out pattern to Floyd, the quarterbacks’ performances weren’t noteworthy.
“It all comes out of my hands, so (the interceptions) are ultimately on me,” Kolb said afterward. “Offensively, as a whole, we didn’t do real well, but there are things to build on.”
That was the theme for the defense, too, despite its strong effort. Dockett was displeased that the unit allowed a couple of touchdowns in goal-line situations.
“We were pathetic there last year,” Dockett said. “Anybody could have run the ball on us in goal-line (situations), so that was something we emphasized. We’ve got to get better.”
When told both of his units were displeased, Whisenhunt smiled.
“That’s good,” he said. “We can get better, but I don’t know how you can make both sides happy.”