Sparano faces tall task in Oakland
TEMPE, Ariz. — Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano held a ball-burying ceremony last week with his team in an effort to put a 0-4 start behind them.
"Everybody needed that," Oakland defensive end and former Cardinal Antonio Smith said via conference call on Wednesday. "If you’re looking at the games we played before and lost before, but you’re trying to climb this mountain of 11 more games to go, how you’re going to look at it is as a loser if you keep looking back with that same old mindset you had."
"You done defeated yourself before you ever even tried to get on the field and make something happen."
The football burial isn’t a new idea. Jets coach Rex Ryan did it (Sparano was his offensive coordinator in 2012), and so did Saints coach Sean Payton.
The task isn’t as easy in Oakland as it might be elsewhere, because in spite of the franchise’s age-old mantra, Commitment to Excellence, there exists a culture of losing in Oakland. The Raiders have not posted a winning record in their last 11 seasons (this will likely be No. 12). In that span, the Raiders have had eight coaches.
"I don’t really concern myself too much with the history that way because we have a lot of players on this football team that are brand new," Sparano said. "Antonio doesn’t know anything about that history. He’s obviously aware of what’s gone on here, but he wasn’t part of that."
As for the culture changes Sparano hopes to implement, he made it clear that he was not blaming former coach Dennis Allen, who was fired on Sept. 29 after an 0-4 start and an 8-28 record overall with Oakland.
"I believed in everything that Dennis was doing at that time, wholeheartedly," said Sparano, who was the Dolphins head coach from 2008-11. "There isn’t a person that walks in this building that says they’re an Oakland Raider that wasn’t a part of this. It wasn’t one man. I’ve been on the other side of that pancake, and I know how it goes.
"Somebody takes the fall in these situations, but you can’t dwell on that. You have to pick yourself and keep going."
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Monday that defensive end Calais Campbell (MCL strain) had a slim chance of playing Sunday in Oakland. On Tuesday, he revised that during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Arians told hosts Alex Marvez and Bill Polian that Campbell is jogging, adding that he probably won’t be ready for the Raiders on Sunday but will be back for the team’s Oct. 26 game against Philadelphia at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Campbell suffered the injury on an illegal chop block from Broncos tight end Julius Thomas on Oct. 5 in a loss at Denver. Originally, the Cardinals said he would be out one to three weeks, so this would be right in keeping with that timeline.
Kicker Chandler Catanzaro was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after making all three of his field goal attempts on Sunday against Washington — from 33, 49 and 37 yards.
Catanzaro is 14 for 14 on field goal attempts this season and also made all seven attempts in the preseason.
Catanzaro is three field goals short of tying the NFL record for consecutive makes to start a career, set by Washington’s Kai Forbath two seasons ago.
"Really not feeling any pressure out there," Catanzaro said after Sunday’s game. "I’m kind of just doing my thing. Once I step on the game field, I can get into a zone and block everything out. For those three seconds, it’s just me and the ball. That’s my job, just helping the team win."
The undrafted free agent from Clemson has 50 points this season, second in the NFL among rookies behind Eagles kicker Cody Parkey (57). Catanzaro has made the second-most field goals in the league, trailing only New England’s Stephen Gostkowski (16).
Catanzaro is the first Cardinals rookie since Patrick Peterson in Week 12 of 2011 to earn Player-of-the-Week honors and the seventh in team history.
— Telecasts of the five Cardinals games this season have averaged a 25.6 rating with a 47 share and have been watched in an average of 472,000 local households. The numbers reflect a 23 percent jump over the same point in 2013, the largest such increase in the NFL.
— The Cardinals released linebacker Jonathan Brown from the practice squad and signed linebacker Kaelin Burnett and cornerback Ross Weaver to the practice squad.