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Breaston Hopes To Return

Notebook: Despite defensive struggles, red-zone stops are silver lining

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Steve Breaston hauls in a kickoff to return last weekend against Seattle.




Steve Breaston was back home. Sort of.

The hamstring injury to LaRod Stephens-Howling last weekend meant Breaston – who was the team's kickoff returner until Stephens-Howling showed up last season, and its punt returner until his No. 2 receiver status this year necessitated a change – was back returning kicks.

Breaston has always loved that role and wasn't particularly thrilled when he lost the punt return duties, although he understood why. Now, with Stephens-Howling questionable for Sunday's game after sitting out all week, the Cards may need to turn to Breaston again.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt declined to say what the Cards will do – he said the Cards have multiple players as options -- but Breaston loves the idea of returning kicks.

"When I was the punt returner or the kick returner, it was usually my first play of the game and it got me into the game a lot faster," Breaston said. "When you were playing with guys like Larry (Fitzgerald) and Q (Anquan Boldin), it took you a while to get going because you don't get the ball. With returns, you get the hits in, especially this past game. I got a kickoff and then two big plays. It gets you into the game."

Breaston averaged 24.6 yards on his five kickoff returns. He was going to make the most of his opportunity too. Of the five returns, each went into the end zone and he brought them all out, including kicks that were four, five and seven yards deep.

"As long as I get to the 20, I'm alright," Breaston said with a smile. "If I don't get to the 20, OK, then maybe I should've kept it in but if I bring it out I'm definitely going to get to the 20. I'm not gonna sit still. I bring it out seven yards deep, I'm getting to the 20."

IN THE RED ZONE


The Cardinals have been poor defensively, allowing the most points in the NFL and ranking 30th in yards allowed. But they have somehow managed to hold up in the red zone.

They are allowing just 3.74 points per opponent's red-zone visit and a 36.2 percent touchdown efficiency, both second in the NFL to Tennessee. It is true that two games against Seattle have bolstered the work – the Cards allowed the Seahawks into the red zone 15 times, but Seattle scored just three touchdowns – but generally, the Cards have remained consistent.

"It's something we did well in training camp and our players are comfortable with that scheme," Whisenhunt said. "They know where they are supposed to be. What it comes down to is we haven't made mistakes and that's why, when we have done that – even when we have done that in other areas of our defense – we have played well. It's a good way to point out to the team, 'If you play that way without the mistakes you've been making, you can play it pretty well' "

MONEY MIKE ON DECK


With starting cornerback Greg Toler questionable with a foot injury, it would leave the Cardinals wil Michael Adams – all 5-foot-7 of him – in his place if Toler cannot play. Yet Adams, who has remained in the NFL because his work ethic and desire has balanced his size issue, clearly is confident going to Kansas City.

"It's my job," Adams said. "If Greg can't go, I've gotta be the guy. That's football.

"It's not my first rodeo. I was in this same position last year playing the nickel and if someone goes down, I have to go in and play the corner. I am used to it. I just have to do the job."

Adams replaced Toler at one point last weekend against the Seahawks when Toler was struggling. He knows he is viewed as a player with limitations and he would end up in a secondary that hasn't been playing well of late. Yet he said he would relish such an opportunity.

"This is what we are here for, to get a chance to play on Sundays, to get a chance to play the position we play in the game we love," Adams said. "I am always ready for the challenge to try and lock someone down."

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