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Horton Bounces Back

Posted Sep 15, 2011

Notebook: Defensive coordinator seeks patience with young CBs

Cornerback Patrick Peterson tracks down Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith during Sunday's 28-21 win over the Panthers.

Ray Horton had a small smile when he was asked about how his defensive players would bounce back this week after the Panthers piled up yards in the season opener.

“I was worried about how I would bounce back,” the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator said. “They know a win is a win in this league. Coaches are a little more concerned with the fine details, (the players) are worried about the scoreboard.”

The Cardinals need to get better defensively, Horton said, and he had certain expectations going into the first game. Then Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton threw for 422 yards, and Horton’s expectations had to change.

His first point when talking Thursday: “The important thing I have to remember is our two starting corners, this will only be their second start in their careers,” Horton said. “I have to be patient.”

The reference is to rookie Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the defensive front played well and he thought the linebackers played well. But “we just gave up some plays on the back end and that’s tough,” Whisenhunt added. “You are on an island back there and one mistake can be catastrophic.

“We had a comedy of errors on the back half. That’s what we are working to improve. (But) I don’t believe our attitude has suffered.”

The back half includes a pair of veteran safeties in Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson.

“You can’t blame it all on the young guys,” Rhodes said. “It’s a collective group, all of us DBs. We have to get it tightened up as a whole.”

It is no big surprise that Peterson or Jefferson – or anyone on defense, for that matter – might struggle with Horton’s new system in the first game. “It’s a learning curve,” Peterson said. “Me and A.J. were in some bad positions technical-wise, not playing in the scheme of the defense, but that’s going to come.”

Horton doesn’t expect such problems to last long-term, either from his cornerbacks or the defense as a whole. Despite offenses dominating, Horton thinks defenses will begin to catch up to a certain point, while allowing it’s an offense-driven league.

“That’s why our games are so exciting,” Horton said. “They aren’t one-zero soccer games.”

It may be exciting, but that doesn’t make it easy on the blood pressure of a defensive coordinator.

“Ray’s a chill guy,” Haggans said. “He’s not a yeller or screamer. He’ll tell you what you did right, what you did wrong. When we executed his defense the correct way we were fine. When we had communication or technique breakdown, we got gassed.”

INJURY UPDATE

Linebacker Daryl Washington (calf) and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) each sat out a second straight day of practice. Wide receiver DeMarco Sampson (hamstring) was also downgraded to DNP Thursday after doing some limited work the day before.

Cornerback Crezdon Butler was added to the injury report as limited after suffering an ankle injury. The Cards have better depth there than a week ago, however, thanks to the full return of Michael Adams.

Linebacker Joey Porter (knee) returned to work on a limited basis, as did tight end Jim Dray (pectoral strain). Punter Dave Zastudil (calf) remains limited.

EVERYBODY WATCHED REPLAY

The Cardinals-Panthers replay on NFL Network Tuesday night  -- certainly not hurt with the Newton factor – had an audience of 298,000 viewers, making it the most watched broadcast of “NFL Replay” the NFL Network has had since beginning the series in 2006.


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