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Paris, The Quiet Captain

Posted Sep 8, 2011

Notebook: Linebacker surprise pick; Marshall, King face former team

Linebacker Paris Lenon was announced as one of the Cards' 2011 captains Thursday.

When coach Ken Whisenhunt was announcing his team’s captains for 2011, he got to the final name and, with a smile, named the “ever-loquacious” Paris Lenon when the linebacker is anything but.
 
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, himself named captain again, called Lenon’s selection a surprise because “Paris doesn’t say two words.”

The last comment brought a low-key chuckle from Lenon. “I’m not, you know, too much of a talker,” Lenon said, in a fairly large understatement.

“I think when it comes to leadership, it takes all types,” Lenon added. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I never say anything. I’m just not boisterous. When I do have something to say, it’s relevant and it’s about football.”

The rest of the captains list went as expected. Center Lyle Sendlein (second selection) and Fitzgerald (fourth) were picked on offense, and since both returned from last season, they were natural picks. Same for safety Adrian Wilson (fourth) and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (third) on defense, and, to a lesser extent, first-timer Jay Feely, who was the special teams pick.

Fitzgerald called it an “honor” and admitted he might not have felt that way once upon a time.

“When I was younger I probably would’ve preferred not to be a captain and didn’t really care about it,” Fitzgerald said. “But as I have gotten older I have become a lot more of a team guy.”

Lenon’s selection was not expected, but is a nod to his work both last season (a team-high 127 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions) and his work in training camp as the 34-year-old held off a challenge from free-agent signee Stewart Bradley to retain his starting job.

“Last year, Paris’ season was one of the most underrated, not just because of his toughness and leadership but what he brought to the team,” Whisenhunt said. “It was obvious being voted in as captain this year. He has followed it up by having a good camp, knowing the defense.

“It seems like he has found a fountain of youth in Arizona.”

Fitzgerald said Lenon was the “consummate professional.” Lenon’s facial expression rarely changes – he often looks like he is ready to go tackle someone, even if practice ended an hour before – but that doesn’t mean he didn’t grasp the meaning of being named captain.

“It was a surprise to me but I definitely appreciate it,” Lenon said. “When it’s voted on by your teammates, it shows the respect they have for you.”

ONCE A PANTHER, NOW A CARD

The Cardinals added a pair of free agents this offseason who had previously spent their careers in Carolina – tight end Jeff King and cornerback Richard Marshall. With the two teams playing Sunday, making the adjustment to the other side remains ongoing in some ways.

When it was pointed out that the Panthers and Cards seem to meet every year (because they have), King said of the Cardinals, “You guys are in the (NFC) South, right?” before quickly correcting himself. “We. We are.”

“I was very familiar with this team, so they will be familiar with us, I’m sure,” King said.

Both King and Marshall still see some similarities with their former squad even with a new coaching staff taking over. But both predictably downplayed seeing the Panthers from the other sideline.
“I still have friends there but I’m with the Cardinals now,” Marshall said. “I don’t want to try to do too much. That’s when bad things happen.”

GAME SOLD OUT

The game Sunday was officially declared a sellout Thursday, meaning the game will be televised locally on Fox. It is the 56th straight sellout for the Cards at University of Phoenix Stadium – preseason, regular season and playoff games combined. The Cards have yet to fail to sell out since moving into their new building.

PLANS FOR 9/11

Every NFL team hosting a game Sunday – which is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – will be putting on a special presentation honoring the date. There will be a live video on the scoreboard of the playing of TAPS from Arlington National Cemetery, the unfurling of a field-sized American flag by Military, Police and Firefighter volunteers, a moment of remembrance and silence and then the national anthem performed by Grammy nominated platinum recording artist and Arizona native Jordin Sparks.

Players and coaches will wear a special 9/11 ribbon as a patch or pin.

The NFL and NFLPA are contributing $1 million to three memorials and two charities related to the events of September 11, 2001. There will also be an on-line auction (www.nfl.com/auction) to raise funds that will include game-worn autographed jerseys and coaches and players hats.
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