Linebacker O'Brien Schofield congratulates safety Kerry Rhodes on a play during Sunday's loss in Green Bay, the Cardinals' final game before taking their bye week for 2012.
Ken Whisenhunt can see it in the eyes of his nine rookies.
Whether they play a lot, such as Michael Floyd, or rarely, like Ryan Lindley, the grind of an NFL season is starting to wear on the 22- and 23-year-olds. The first nine weeks of the season, coupled with the five preseason games has equaled a full college season, conference championship and bowl games included. And there's still seven games left.
The bye week could not have come at a better time.
"It give us a chance to work on some of our inconsistencies, to look at our scheme and what we're doing, look at our players that we're doing it with, a lot of those things," Whisenhunt said.
Without a game to recover from or prepare for, the Cardinals can power down for a few days and regroup mentally and physically. That means coaches, too.
Sunday's 31-17 loss at Green Bay was another week littered with missed opportunities and mistakes. According to Whisenhunt's count Monday, the Cards dropped seven passes, and both sides of the ball played too inconsistent at times. Whisenhunt plans on working through the bye week, figuring out ways to correct the issues that seem to plague the Cardinals only in games.
He'll have a week to review not just the Packers' game, but the last nine weeks and come to wide-angle conclusions on what has worked thus far this season, and what hasn't.
"This gives us a chance with some of our players, to evaluate them over more than a one-game or two-game or three-game period," Whisenhunt said. "You can look at a body of work and say we're not getting it done and we're willing to make the change and go with the next guy and see what he can do to help us."
It began in the second quarter Sunday, when rookie tackle Nate Potter replaced D'Anthony Batiste for the rest of the game. Inserting Potter may end up being the extent of the changes but Whisenhunt was clear that he'll be evaluating his options this week, although he wouldn't let on to who and what they might be. He wouldn't even completely commit to keeping Potter in the lineup Nov. 18 at Atlanta – it would be an upset if Potter wasn't -- but don't expect Whisenhunt to revamp the entire lineup when the team returns next Monday.
Besides signing a free agent or claiming someone off waivers, there are few options for wholesale changes. The trade deadline came and went last Thursday.
Michael Floyd may continue to be worked into the offense more. The rookie from Notre Dame was targeted seven times and caught five of them for 80 yards, tying his career high for catches and setting a new career mark for yards.
Rob Housler may continue to get the majority of snaps at tight end and the offensive line is expected to get Adam Snyder back in the next week or two.
If Whisenhunt makes a change, he'll be pragmatic about it. No changes just "to make change," he said.
"I think we're going to look at what we're doing and who we're doing it with, but I think the one thing that I want to be very clear about is we're not going to be afraid to make a change," Whisenhunt said. "That's what you have to look at. If it gives us an opportunity to get better and not stay the same, then that's what you have to do."