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Cardinals Focused On Rams In London

Overseas game a pivotal NFC West clash


Running back Adrian Peterson's presence is a big reason why the Cardinals are confident heading into their game with the Rams.

LONDON, England – Veteran defensive lineman Frostee Rucker is more cultured than many of his younger teammates, some of whom had never been outside of the country until this week's visit to the United Kingdom.

He wanted to make sure they appreciated this trip to a foreign land during their free time.

"Enjoy the experience, the culture and everything," Rucker said. "There is a lot of great history here in London. Guys should travel and see what they have to offer. Eat fish and chips. Watch rugby."

But, Rucker said, do so after the workday.

"When it's football time," Rucker said, "it's really football time."

This has not been a normal week for the Cardinals, who arrived in London on Tuesday morning in preparation for their NFC West showdown on Sunday against the Rams. There has been a unique feel during the early part of practices, with cornerback Patrick Peterson snapping photos of his teammates on Thursday and kicker Phil Dawson booting a rugby ball through the sport's goalposts on Friday.

But once the media left, the team got down to business, and coach Bruce Arians has been content with the transition.

"I've been very pleased," Arians said Friday. "I talked to a bunch of them this morning, how they felt, and they're all on a good sleep pattern. So, I feel like they've adjusted, and the energy at practice has been very good."

The Cardinals hope so, because their last road trip did not go nearly as planned. They played the Eagles in Philadelphia and fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter of a blowout loss. The next day, Arians wondered aloud what he could do better to have the team more prepared.

That loss dropped the Cardinals to their nadir, with a 2-3 record and little reason to be optimistic moving forward. But then came the trade for Adrian Peterson and his vintage performance in Sunday's win over the Buccaneers.

Suddenly, there is a completely different feel. The Cardinals can pull even with division-leading Los Angeles (4-2) with a win, and doing so seems much more realistic after last week's turnaround.

Peterson was adamant from the day he arrived in Arizona that his career wasn't fading fast. The 32-year-old received steady carries on Sunday for the first time this season, and finished with 26 rushes for 134 yards and two scores to earn the NFL's FedEx Ground Player of the Week.

"A lot of people like to put a stamp on guys, that it's over, running backs especially that are over 30, 32, but that doesn't mean anything," Peterson said. "I don't think they should attach that to every single player."

If the Cardinals win on Sunday and the Seahawks lose to the Giants, a team that looked lost for the first five weeks of the season would suddenly be atop the division.

The positive vibes have traveled overseas with the Cardinals, but now they must keep it rolling. The team last stayed away from home for a week in 2015, losing the second game of that trip to a Steelers team without Ben Roethlisberger.

The Cardinals and Rams are on equal footing in this one, each taking the long plane ride over the Atlantic. Los Angeles enters feeling just as good, as it has been arguably the most surprising success story in the NFL through six weeks. The Cardinals can't afford a slow start.

"We've just got to dial in, be focused, got to understand that this is a business trip, and we're ultimately fighting for first place in our division," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "So, we've got to understand that our opponent is playing really well. They're extremely confident right now. We just have to match that intensity."

Images from Friday's practice at the London Irish Rugby Club

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