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At The Bye, Arrow Pointing Up

With a 3-2 record and rookie QB, easier for Cards to have optimism


Michael Adams (27) and the rest of the Cardinals are feeling good after going 3-2 during tumultuous times in their pre-bye schedule.

With the way every game is dissected and analyzed each week, the days between NFL contests can be agonizingly long.

The bye week simply doubles that time.

Yet it can be a relief under the right circumstances – like, in the Cardinals' case, coming off an unexpected victory, with hope found in the form of a rookie quarterback, and standing atop the division.

The Cards' current situation "sure makes me feel a lot better," coach Ken Whisenhunt said with a smile Monday.

"To think we have not played really good football and we're at 3-2 is a really good sign because if we can continue to improve, we have a chance to be a really good football team."

The Cardinals don't play again until an Oct. 24 date in Seattle. This week, Whisenhunt will only make the Cards practice once – Wednesday – although he plans on having young players come to the facility for some video work.

One of the young players will be quarterback Max Hall, who survived his first NFL start with a win (even if the Cards didn't score an offensive touchdown, save for tackle Levi Brown's fumble recovery). He will need the prep time to get ready for a start at a place infamous for making it hard on the opposing offense.

"That comes with being a starting quarterback in the NFL," Hall said. "There is a lot of responsibility, a lot of pressure. The better I can manage those responsibilities and put in the time, the better off I'll be. That's what I plan to do. It's a good time for us to have a bye week and a good time for me to get reps in practice and watch a lot of film and get better."

That takes little of the luster off the Cards' early season. Whisenhunt was already wondering how his team would jell after an offseason of turnover and transition, and that was before starting quarterback Derek Anderson struggled enough to force a change to Hall.

Yet the Cards have won three of five through arguably the most difficult part of their schedule. The majority of the games remaining are at home, and two of the five road games come against current 0-5 teams.

Expecting the defense to score multiple touchdowns as it did Sunday is unrealistic, but having the group play steady football isn't.

"It's not about trying to create 10 tackles, four sacks a game," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "You just go out and say, 'I'm going to do my job.' "

Minus the Levi Brown-fumble miracle, the Cards have scored only 12 points offensively the last two games, all off the foot of kicker Jay Feely. But again, that's where the hope created by Hall has altered the landscape.

"We know we still need to work on offense, we know we didn't do the things we needed to do, we know we need to score more points," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "But we are proud to get the win.

"I just hope (Max) can continue to get better and we can continue to get better as an offense."

There are two weeks to tinker with such things, two weeks that will feel much better than the week the Cards just left behind.

"We know the arrow is going up," guard Alan Faneca said, "but we know we still have some work to do."


Linebacker Reggie Walker (hamstring) has to be reevaluated, Whisenhunt said, but wide receiver Stephen Williams (back) should be OK after an MRI was negative. …

Whisenhunt plans to have a "constructive discussion" with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie after DRC's decision to run back his late interception instead of just falling on it. …

Whisenhunt on his decision to throw the ball on third-and-8 with 59 seconds left: "I told Max that if it wasn't there to eat it, not to throw it. I said they were selling out to stop the run and we were running that play with the idea if it came open, we have a chance at the first down and end the game. But I said to him clearly, 'Don't throw it unless you know you have the play because we want the clock to continue running.' "

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