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Jovial Cardinals look to keep good times going against 49ers

As the saying goes, “winning cures all ills” in
the sports world.

Winners in four of their last five games, the Arizona
Cardinals may be living proof that the adage is, in fact
correct.

Take, for instance, Darnell Dockett leading the fellow
defensive linemen in a sprint off the practice field,
giggling as they ran past the hoard of assembled media.

Or, perhaps, a locker room exchange between Dockett and
Patrick Peterson, where the veteran told the rookie “tell
them the news.”

When Peterson asked “what news,” Dockett responded,
“Dockett’s your daddy.”

Peterson denied that Dockett was his father, and would not
give the defensive captain the satisfaction of saying he
taught the youngster everything he knows.

Is jovial the word?

“Winning will definitely do that for you,” Peterson said.
“But we’re not where we want to be yet.”

That’s the right attitude, because no one would want a 5-7
team to think it has arrived. However, the Cardinals are
coming off their best win of the season, one that saw the
defense play well (again) and the offense make enough big
plays when needed.

“We’ve got to be more consistent and make more plays
earlier in games,” head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We’ve
fortunately been able to make a few at the end of games
here lately, and that’s been critical for us.”

Regardless of their flaws, the Cardinals are getting
better. Fans seem to sense it, and the players do too.

“That’s why I want to get back, I don’t want them to
forget me,” safety Kerry Rhodes said. Rhodes, of course,
has missed the last seven games, a stretch that saw the
defense transform from one of the league’s worst units to,
possibly, one of the league’s best.

“We’ve said it since day one, that it’s going to be a
process and it’s going to take time,” Rhodes added. “You
don’t want that to happen, but it did, and now I think
those guys understand what’s going on, and just seeing it
from the sideline last week, everybody just looks so in
tune on what’s going on, and I want to be a part of that,
selfishly.”

And that’s just it: winning is contagious, winning is fun.
And winning will be challenged by the 10-2 San Francisco
49ers, who beat the Cardinals fewer than three weeks ago.

That’s where the whole “improvement thing” comes into
play, with the hope that things will be different this
time around.