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Cards Coming After Kicks

Posted Oct 16, 2009

Notebook: Spach out, Patrick a game-day decision

Calais Campbell has blocked two field-goal attempts already this season.
 
 
Calais Campbell and Gabe Watson got together to set a goal before the season for their time on the field-goal rush team: They wanted the unit to get five blocks.

With two in four games, that goal seems reachable.

“We know we can get pressure on every kick,” Watson said.

The focus is often on Campbell, the 6-foot-8 defensive end whose size makes for a possible block on every kick. But Campbell has been quick to praise Watson, the space-eater inside whose diagnosis of blocking schemes has given the Cards hints on both field-goal blocks against Jacksonville and Houston.

The unit goes beyond those two, though. It’s a star-studded group of starters who make an impact, special teams coach Kevin Spencer said, from Darnell Dockett to Adrian Wilson to Clark Haggans to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, that make the Cards a force on every field goal.

“I really believe it’s more the kids’ efforts and determination more than it is the scheme,” Spencer said. “I am just trying to put our strongest and biggest in a position and the guys are just making it happen.

“Coach (Ken) Whisenhunt always says he can judge the character of the team by the field-goal rush.”

Spencer pointed out that he recently watched the film of a poor team and he noticed, on an early block-kick try, that there was little effort at all. “They were dead, and it showed,” Spencer said.

That doesn’t seem like it will happen with the Cards.

Against Houston, Watson said Campbell told him to pull his man inside, while Dockett “blew up his guy” outside.

“I it opened a little crease and with Calais’ long arms, that’s all he needs,” Watson said.
Campbell called Watson “a beast” inside, with Watson and Dockett creating seams that Campbell tries to exploit. The Cardinals, however, see other options as well, including the lightning-fast Rodgers-Cromartie flying in from the outside as a block possibility.

DRC blocked a field goal against Minnesota last season as a rookie and Watson said he thought Rodgers-Cromartie, who is playing with a fractured finger, may have gotten hurt when he tipped a kick against the Colts.

“If we keep making plays inside, they’ll have to give us more attention and maybe Dock can get in there or on the outside you have Adrian or DRC,” Campbell said. “We have to be prepared for the fake, though, because everyone gets anxious. You want to go get one.”

SPACH OUT, PATRICK LIKELY

Whisenhunt made it official Friday and  ruled tight end Stephen Spach (ankle) out for Sunday’s game. Five players are questionable, although all are expected to be available, including starters WR Steve Breaston (knee) and CB Bryant McFadden (ankle).

While tight end Ben Patrick has yet to be elevated back to the active roster following his four-game suspension, his play improved during practice and there is a good chance he will play this week. Whisenhunt said it would be a game-day decision with Patrick still getting through physical and mental hurdles.

“There is some soreness you have to get through, especially earlier in the week,” Whisenhunt said. “But the mental part of it … there may be a change we made in Week Two that we’ve been operating under for three weeks and that’s not something he’s familiar with.”

FOURTH IN LINE

The Seahawks have been ravaged by injuries on the offensive line this season, but no more than at left tackle.

Perennial Pro Bowler Walter Jones has been battling a problem knee for a long time, and backup Sean Locklear badly hurt an ankle. So third-stringer Brandon Frye stepped in, but last week, hurt his neck so bad the Seahawks placed him on injured reserve, ending his season.

That leaves former practice squad man Kyle Williams as the starter, and veteran Damion McIntosh, on the street until this week, on board as a backup.

“He's expected to do his job,” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said. “We're not dealing with a high-school kid here.”

The Cardinals, who have been unable to notch a sack the past two games, would be expected to embrace such inexperience from the Seattle line  (center Chris Spencer and guard Rob Sims are also out with injuries). But they’re not.

“It’s funny because you talk like that, but you have guys who have been on the practice squad or really fought to make the team and you get the hardest game from those guys,” nose tackle Bryan Robinson said. “You think it will be a walk in the park. No. He wants to be there next week and the week after that.”
 
 
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