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The Quest At Qwest

Posted Oct 20, 2010

Dealing with noisy test in Seattle first job for Hall, offensive line

Veteran Bryan Robinson (front) trades pleasantries with Seattle fans while the Cardinals come out for last season's game at Qwest Field.


For Larry Fitzgerald, it’s the “most fun place” he gets to play in away from University of Phoenix Stadium: Qwest Field in Seattle.

“You definitely have that you-against-the-world feeling when you go on the field,” Fitzgerald said. “You see the ‘No. 1’ (jersey-wearing) guy and the crazy guy above the tunnel calling your name. It’s a great atmosphere.

“It’s the 11 men in the huddle and no one else in the building is supporting you. I love that feeling.”

Not that every teammate is going to feel the same way, especially on offense. The Cardinals are still breaking in a rookie quarterback, and Max Hall gets to make his road starting debut in one of the loudest NFL venues.

And that might not even be the biggest obstacle, since the Cardinals right tackle, Brandon Keith, has never played in a game there and is still trying to learn his position – and the noise can be a test for even hardened offensive linemen.

“As a quarterback, your job is to make it easier on those guys,” Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “(The QB) knows when the snap is coming. It’s probably tougher on the guys around you.”

That won’t be argued by Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, who said during his playing days as a tight end the hardest thing he had to do was play in a loud environment and make sure he came off at the snap despite being so far from the ball.

The building already has an infamous reputation, crystallized by the 11 false starts called on the New York Giants there during a 2005 game. The Cardinals have been called for 18 false starts in the seven games they have played there since it opened in 2002, including three last season.

“We’re the furthest from the center, so we are trying to look past the guard and see the center’s head, especially on the silent count, and it gets tough sometimes,” left tackle Levi Brown said. “It will happen. Sometimes you will be late and you just have to try and run that defensive end past the quarterback, but it’s part of the game.”

Noise has affected Keith at least some in the Cards’ first three road games, but he said he is gaining comfort in his role. And while he has never played in Seattle, he has attended games there as an inactive player and understands what is coming.

“You have to really tune in, because beyond just worrying about your responsibility on a particular play, you’ve got to make sure you get off the ball on time, you make sure you make the right read, so you have to be so focused,” Keith said. “Like coach said, it’s going to be like a playoff atmosphere, so that’s how we have to approach it.”

Whisenhunt said the concern isn’t on the quarterback or the offensive line in particular but the unit as a whole working together.

Hall, as usual sounding confident, said that’s his biggest responsibility. If he can pull it off, then Fitzgerald will be right – a game at Qwest can be fun.

“I’ve heard it’s noisy and a fun place to play,” Hall said. “Coach (Chris) Miller says this is why we play the game is to play in games like this. The best way to prepare is to have the (piped-in) noise out at practice and work on the silent count and make sure as a quarterback you communicate to your guys as clearly as possible.”
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