Larry Fitzgerald was in the huddle for every play call despite no helmet or pads and a huge brace on his right leg. He broke the huddle like anyone else. Of course it seemed like Coach Ken Whisenhunt was genius. Why not run the first play in NFL history that went 5-wide with a running back? Who’s going to cover a WR with a leg brace? Only this illegal formation included the worst route ever run by Larry Fitzgerald. He hobbled out from the huddle and lined up between a split wide Stephen Williams and Andre Roberts in the slot. He finally got there at the end of the snap count but never got set. The whole time he was in motion he shouted, “Sell it. They can’t cover both of you. Make him (the safety) choose. Drive him back.”
Leinart took the snap but his favorite receiver just stood there shouting down field. Roberts, confident since he knew this was his best practice and best day as a professional athlete, juked to the outside and then went up the seam on a Z route. Matt Ware cut him off ready to intercept a pass from the USC QB who never threw the deep ball. SOLD. Williams never broke stride while listening to the shouts of the best receiver in the NFL behind him. Leinart let fly a pass that was clearly overthrown to the uneducated from the second it left his hand. No way could a player that 32 NFL teams said, “No Thanks,” to seven different times run under that pass in the back of the end zone.
Do you mind if I do something really dumb? I did my first sports talk show in April of 1991 so I’m coming close to being a member of the media for 20 years. I’m about to do something that would get me fired from any college campus teaching job. I watched one practice Tuesday and made a decision.
The Arizona Cardinals will win the NFC West.
Yes, I just made that prediction after watching Tuesday’s practice.
Ever notice that Ken Whisenhunt always does the opposite of what’s expected? He doesn’t do this to be unpredictable. He’s just a graduate of Georgia Tech and he’s smarter than the rest of us. Whenever the Cards play poorly during the regular season, it’s CKW who always calms down media and fans. After what we thought was an average pre-season game, it’s CKW who’s dropping the hammer while the rest of us check the film wondering what upset him. CKW uses the pre-season to reach perfection while the regular season is just a mechanism to reach the playoffs.
There was no doubt that every player on the Arizona Cardinals got the message that CKW was disappointed in Saturday night’s performance against the Houston Texans. If you would have watched Tuesday’s practice you would agree with me. You won’t hear this from very many sources because there were about 10 members of the media at practice and six of them were Sports 620 KTAR employees.
The Cardinals practiced their two-minute drill. At first it was tough. The four-wide wide receivers were Steve Breaston, Andre Roberts, Ed Gant, and Stephen Williams. Yes, Stephen Williams caught an incredible 45-yard bomb in the back of the end zone with the CB draped all over him on the best pass of Matt Leinart’s professional career, but that’s not why I picked the Cards. It was what I saw every play for five plays before that.
Larry Fitzgerald didn’t sit on an exercise bike thinking “this is rehab.” Do your rehab on your own time and be involved in practice now. Larry ran in his brace to tell the receivers what he would see if he were playing. That’s a team leader who got the message from his coach.
Only seven players went into the locker room after practice. There were over 50 players who stayed on the field working on their skills when they had already allotted the full time mandated. Look to the far side of the field and there’s Andre Roberts, Marshay Green, Jorrick Calvin and Justin Miller catching punts from the Jugs machine. In the foreground are six different WR’s throwing passes to each other. To your left, just standing on the sideline, are three OL talking to Russ Grimm making swim move gesture’s to each other. The QB’s are talking to passing game coordinator Mike Miller at the 45.
Ken Whisenhunt is standing at the 50 and he is well pleased.
Dear National media:
Meet the 2010 NFC West Champions.