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Playing It Out

Posted Aug 11, 2012

With three preseason games left, Cards aren't panicking

Running back Alfonso Smith tries to break a tackle in Kansas City Friday night.

This time of year, football is all about doing it until you get it right.

Even if that takes all game.

Less than 15 hours after the Cardinals fell to the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-17, coach Ken Whisenhunt said Saturday that play counts are going out the window this week. If it takes all of Friday’s third preseason game against the Raiders to show improvement, then that’s what will happen.

“We’re going to play,” Whisenhunt said. “Once we feel like our guys are making progress with that, then we’ll come out.”

After giving up two 72-yard scoring drives in the first quarter, Whisenhunt watched as the first-team defense was itching to get back on the field during the second half Friday. He’ll give it a chance to prove itself in front of a home crowd this week.

With a week to prepare for the Raiders, there wasn’t one primary area of concern for Whisenhunt. It was little things all around that could improve, but there couldn’t be a better time for mistakes to be made, he said.

“It’s actually kind of good,” Whisenhunt said of the defense’s early-game struggles against Kansas City. “Maybe we’ll go through this now and play better when we start the season.”

When that day comes Sept. 9 against Seattle at University of Phoenix Stadium, who will quarterback the Cardinals is still to be determined.

Per Whisenhunt’s decision to alternate starts, Kevin Kolb will take the first snap against Oakland. Kolb impressed his coach by playing through a chest injury in such a quick turnaround between games.

Whisenhunt said he didn’t expect there to be a front-runner for the starter at this point of the preseason and made clear he isn’t spending time overanalyzing every play from either Kolb or John Skelton. But Whisenhunt said the two, like the rest of the team, still have work to do this preseason.

“I don’t think anybody is where they should be at this point,” he said. “Everybody wants instant analysis of where your team is. We’re two preseason games in. We didn’t play the way wanted to play.”

Whether Whisenhunt will play his first team all game against Oakland or not, he didn’t offer up excuses for returning to Arizona without a preseason win after two road games. Some of the same issues that burdened the Cards against the New Orleans Saints in Canton, Ohio, were evident again in Kansas City.

“I think that in both the (joint) practice and in the game (Friday) night, our guys fought hard but we just didn’t make plays,” Whisenhunt said. “We missed tackles. We missed the plays. We had opportunities. We missed reads. We missed holes.”

The coach stressed it’s not time to hit the panic button yet. But Whisenhunt doesn’t want panic to be confused with a sense of urgency.

“It’s not panic,” he said. “We’ve got three preseason games left. We’ve got practice time left. We’ve got to prove to a lot of people that we can be a good football team. There are a lot of questions about that.

“Our guys want to show we can do that.”

EXTRA POINTS

Cards RB Beanie Wells will get carries in practice this week and then Whisenhunt will determine if he will play Friday. The coach said he ultimately would like to see Wells get a few looks against the Raiders but expects Wells to be play more against the Titans …

RB Ryan Williams “made a lot of progress last week” practicing against the Chiefs and is ahead of schedule compared to Wells …

WR LaRon Byrd “dinged” his shoulder on a catch. CB Michael Adams injured his hamstring. T Nate Potter rolled his ankle but finished the game.


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