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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Oct 11, 2011 - 3:36 pm

Cardinals need young players to keep improving

At 1-4, the Arizona Cardinals main goal is simple: improve.

Some would argue it shouldn't be too hard, given that the team can't get any worse, but there are still 11 games left in the regular season and everyone would feel better if the team showed marked improvement over the season's final few months.

One area of particular interest is the secondary, where the team is starting a pair of young corners in Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson.

"It's a tough position to play," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said of cornerback. "You know that there's going to be some growing pains with young guys but they're working hard at it and that's all we can ask.

"They're going to be good players."

The head coach has said that all season and Jefferson's eight tackle performance against the Vikings was certainly a step in the right direction, but if the Cardinals are to turn things around they'll need him and Peterson to grow up quick.

"Me and A.J., we believe we're definitely getting better each and every week," Peterson said. "It's a long, long, long season and we are just young guys who've been thrown into the fire early."

Peterson said the veterans on the team are helping them and the important thing is to keep their heads up, knowing opportunities will continue coming their way.

And that's just it, really.

The Cardinals cannot afford not to play their young players, meaning they'll all have chances to impress the coaches and start making plays. One player who has been doing just that is receiver Early Doucet, as the third- year pro is second on the team with 21 receptions after leading Arizona with eight catches against Minnesota.

"Early has made strides, he's stayed healthy and he's made some big plays for us," Whisenhunt said. "There's a lot of area for Early to continue to grow and he'll get better as he gets more and more experience of what we're asking him to do."

The Cardinals are being forced to use many young players, something that is reflected in their poor record. As they head into the bye week the key is not only getting some rest, but continuing to work and get better.

They really have no other choice.

Arizona Sports' Kyndra de St. Aubin contributed to this report

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