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With Beanie out, Smith Gets Chance

Posted Sep 25, 2011

Notebook: Fitz sets franchise TD record; Campbell sack-happy vs. Seahawks

Running back Alfonso Smith makes a move during Sunday's 13-10 loss to the Seahawks.

SEATTLE – When training camp started, Alfonso Smith was just hoping to make the team.

Behind Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower, LaRod Stephens-Howling and rookie Ryan Williams, those chances were slim. Much changed by the time the Cards visited Seattle Sunday, with Hightower long traded, Williams hurt and Wells (hamstring) and Stephens-Howling (hand) unable to play.

Veteran Chester Taylor started, but after Taylor’s slow start – 20 yards on eight carries – the Cards turned to Smith exclusively for the rest of the 13-10 loss.

“He had more reps in our run scheme and he did well in those types of plays,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “He was hitting it. He did a nice job.”

Smith finished with 54 yards on 17 carries and added three catches for 21 yards. His biggest trouble came in short-yardage situations, not a huge surprise given that Smith doesn’t quite have the size of Wells.

“Everyone had faith in me,” said Smith, who had his first NFL offensive touches. “I did pretty well all week in practice, I was prepared mentally.

“Going into the game, I knew Beanie was questionable so I put in my mind I was going to get a lot of carries and fortunately it happened.”

FITZ’S RECORD, THEN QUIET

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has historically done very well against the Seahawks, and he was headed that way again Sunday. He had five catches for 64 yards, including a spectacular 12-yard touchdown where he plucked the ball just above the outstretched hands of two defenders who seemed to be in perfect position.

The TD was Fitzgerald’s 67th of his Cardinals’ career, giving him one more than former Cardinals great Roy Green for the most receiving touchdowns in franchise history.

But Fitzgerald was shut out in the second half, and the team’s loss and offensive struggles took the luster off Fitz’s mark.

“The time tonight is not the time to reflect,” Fitzgerald said. “We had our hats handed to us today. We’ve got to get back to the drawing board.”

CAMPBELL BREAKS OUT

Among the Cardinals’ four sacks Sunday came 2½ from defensive end Calais Campbell, setting his career-high. Campbell was credited with four quarterback hits and two tackles for loss among 10 total tackles to lead the team (although the Seahawks’ stat crew did seem generous in handing out assists on tackles).

They were Campbell’s first sacks of the year. Darnell Dockett also got half a sack, and missed out on another when Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was allowed to throw the ball away when it looked like Dockett had pulled him down.

FEELY’S MISSES

Kicker Jay Feely made his first field goal of the season Sunday, but missed his second and third of the season, completely flipping the way his Pro Bowl-caliber season started a year ago. Feely missed a 51-yarder left with the win in the first half, and his 49-yarder – with the win admittedly in his face – came up well short.

“From my perspective, when you have an opportunity to comes through for your team and you don’t, there is probably nothing worse in team sports,” Feely said.

THROWBACK THAT ALMOST WAS

The Cardinals, given their offensive issues, could have gotten a special teams miracle with about a minute left in the game. Forced to punt a final time, the Seahawks booted the ball to return man Patrick Peterson – who moved right at his own 8-yard line and threw a cross-field backward pass to fellow return man A.J. Jefferson at the 6.

Jefferson looked like he had a lot of room to run – except the ball glanced off his hands. Jefferson managed to grab the loose ball and scamper 17 yards, but the muff allowed the Seahawks to recover.

“I thought if he caught it clean, he had a chance,” Whisenhunt said.

Jefferson said he thought the Seahawks read the play because “it looked a lot more open in practice than it did today.”

“Everything happens so fast,” Jefferson said.

INJURY UPDATE

The Cards had four players leave because of injuries Sunday, but all four returned to play. Tight end Todd Heap had the wind knocked out of him on a first-quarter block during an interception that was later nullified, but he ended up leading the team with six receptions.

Tackle Levi Brown missed a couple of series at the end of the first half with a rib cage strain, but he returned in the second half. Linebacker Paris Lenon left the game with a groin injury but he played again, while cornerback Richard Marshall limped off the field after getting shaken up on the final play of the first half but missed no time.


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