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Trading Places

Posted Nov 9, 2011

Cards-Eagles meeting puts those swapped in spotlight

Quarterback Kevin Kolb (left) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will face their former teams Sunday when the Cards and Eagles play.

It was Halloween last year when cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie showed up in the locker room in a giant diaper, huge bib and pacifier, and then proceeded to attend meetings in the get-up.

“He’d do something crazy and you’d look at him, ‘That’s just DRC,’ ” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said, chuckling. “You were numb to it.”

Rodgers-Cromartie was a maddeningly inconsistent talent on the field, but what his former teammates think of when it comes to the huge pre-training camp trade that sent DRC and a second-round draft pick to the Eagles for quarterback Kevin Kolb isn’t football-related, but locker room-related.

“(DRC) is a real good friend of mine, and (the trade) hurt me and it hurt him,” cornerback Michael Adams said. “We talk all the time how we miss him in the locker room.”

As the teams play Sunday in Philadelphia for the first time since the swap, no one is satisfied. Kolb may not even play because of his turf toe, and he had struggled prior to getting hurt. Rodgers-Cromartie has had a similar arc in Philly, pushed to playing the unknown nickel slot position after the Eagles surprisingly signed Nnamdi Asomugha and then falling into some of his similar problems, like an inability – or unwillingness – to tackle.

Rodgers-Cromartie had so many problems Monday night against the Bears he ended up arguing with defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. He admitted later it was frustration.

“I'm a way better cornerback than I'm playing,” DRC said.

Eagles coach Andy Reid said Rodgers-Cromartie is learning on the fly. “I’ve seen some great things and I’ve seen some plays he’d like to have back,” Reid said.

Certainly that would apply to Kolb as well.

The quarterback went from being the starter in Philadelphia to traded to Arizona in less than a year. Stuck in limbo all offseason because of the lockout, knowing he’d be dealt, it was a whirlwind change to end up with the Cards in July.

It’s been a little more than three months since Kolb was an Eagle, but the trade feels like it happened much longer ago.

“I’m glad to be here, but we’ve been through a lot already,” Kolb said. “That makes it a little longer than maybe what it should feel like.”

The ones he left behind – Reid, quarterback Michael Vick – insisted Wednesday Kolb will eventually play better, once his comfort level increases and he has more time with Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt.

It’s similar to everything Kolb and Whisenhunt themselves have been preaching.

“You’re not always going to get instant gratification,” Fitzgerald said. “There are a lot of teams around the league that made trades or made draft picks and it might not work out the way they wanted it to work out immediately. But we will continue to work. That’s part of being a professional, working through that adversity.”

Kolb is desperate to play against his former team. It may not be possible – Kolb sat out practice again Wednesday – but “I know it’s driving him,” Whisenhunt said. The battles Fitzgerald had with DRC in practice should also provide the ex-Cardinal with some motivation too.

It’s the normal on-field fallout of any trade. The Cards have gotten past the impact in the locker room, and the lack of DRC’s comic antics.

“The organization has to do what they think is best for the organization,” Adams said. “This NFL, it’s a league full of changes.”

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