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Cards Know Eagles' Speed Kills

Posted Nov 11, 2011

Notebook: Beanie practices full; Marshall's role; frustrating TE injuries

The Cards will need the defensive speed of guys like linebacker Daryl Washington to help Sunday with the speed of the Eagles' offense.

The tweet from Darnell Dockett said it all.

“The Philadelphia Eagles have more weapons than call of Duty and Halo mixed, and I'm serious as hell,” the Cardinals defensive tackle wrote earlier this week.

A couple of days later, Dockett elaborated.

“That’s the most talented offense in the league as far as athleticism and speed,” Dockett said of the Cardinals’ opponent Sunday. “You don’t go in thinking about that, the speed and athleticism. You go in, play football, and you play hard.”

With Michael Vick at quarterback, LeSean McCoy at running back and a pair of whippet-quick receivers in Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles have the ability to carve up a defense quickly. It could come on a short play in which McCoy jukes a defender or two, or deep down the field on a bomb. That doesn’t even account for Vick’s legs, which forces the pass rushers to keep their lanes, or risk having Vick run forever.

“I try to tell to tell my guys this is a 7-on-7 game with shorts and T-shirt-type, where they want to be out on the edge to beat you,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.

 “Speed shows up in certain situations,” Vick said in the understatement of the year, given that he averages 8.0 yards a rush and McCoy is at an amazing 5.5 yards a rush (with at least one touchdown in each game).  Dockett believes the Cards have to slow “the game-changer” in McCoy.

Eagles coach Andy Reid said the organization didn’t necessarily focus on collecting speed.

“You just try to utilize your players’ strengths,” he said.

That’s what the Cardinals must guard against at Lincoln Financial Field.

“You have to understand they are going to make some plays,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “You just have to stay disciplined and not get so wrapped up it affect you not playing your scheme. You have to tackle in the open field, and you have to know you’ll have to make some plays on balls down the field. They will make some plays, but we are going to line up the next play and try to execute the defense.”

KOLB QUESTIONABLE; BEANIE PROBABLE

Running back Beanie Wells, feeling the best he has felt since before he hurt his knee against Pittsburgh, practiced fully for the first time in a couple of weeks Friday and is probable for Sunday’s game. Quarterback Kevin Kolb did not practice again, but has progressed enough, Whisenhunt said, to be listed as questionable for the game.

For the full injury report, click here.

THE QUIET REPLACEMENT

When veteran Richard Marshall signed as a free agent, it seemed like starting would be a lock. Greg Toler was a cornerback holdover, but the coaches didn’t like starting rookies right away (Patrick Peterson) and A.J. Jefferson might as well have been a rookie he played so little in 2010.

Toler got hurt, but it was Peterson and Jefferson who started from jump. Marshall played in a nickel role, and when free safety Kerry Rhodes got hurt, he also started playing free safety in some sub-packages.

Then last week, he was finally elevated to starter when Jefferson was sent to the bench – not that he wanted to make a big deal of it.

“I wasn’t pressing it,” said Marshall, who has a pair of interceptions. “Whenever they put me in there I was just doing my job. I wasn’t worried about starting or not. We have three corners on this team that can start. You want your turn, and when you go in, do your job. You can’t think, oh I should be in there and then go in and not do the job.”

Whisenhunt said Marshall – who has played in 88 straight games, the third-longest streak for NFL cornerbacks – said Marshall has provided the younger defensive backs a good example.

“He understands how to prepare … with his toughness and attention to detail,” Whisenhunt said. “I think his flexibility is something that has tremendous value to us. To play outside, in the nickel, some back at safety, that’s not easy. It takes not only ability but the right mentality.”

OVERCOMING INJURIES AT TIGHT END

Tight end Todd Heap remains a question with his sore hamstring and rookie tight end Rob Housler is still sidelined with a groin injury. That leaves Jeff King and Jim Dray as the only sure bets at the position for Sunday, and continues the waiting game for the Cards in terms of having all their tight ends handy.

The idea was to beef up the position to have more flexibility. But injuries have made that impossible so far – the Cards have yet to have all four tight ends available in a game. Dray missed six games with a pectoral injury, Heap has been a non-factor since being hurt against the Giants, and now Housler is down.

“It hurts you from game planning,” Whisenhunt said. “It’s just been one thing after another with that position.

“That’s the reason you have depth there. We have been lucky we have been able to do that, but as far as being able to design some plays to get to the strengths of a Todd Heap or Rob Housler, you aren’t able to do that as much as you’d like to.”

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