The Cardinals bring down Rams running back Steven Jackson last season.
Whether familiarity has bred any contempt for the Cardinals toward Rams running back Steven Jackson is unlikely – Jackson, like the Cards' Larry Fitzgerald, is one of those players who seemingly has friends on every team – but there is clearly an extra emphasis for Jackson when the Rams and Cards meet.
"I guess when you are used to being around him and tackling him, there is a little more trash talking because it's a division game, a rivalry," Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell said. "It adds more to it, and you know the guy so well. You have to make sure he knows you haven't forgotten about last year."
Sunday, when the Rams visit University of Phoenix Stadium, will be Jackson's 12th game against the Cardinals in his career (he has missed three games with injury). For the most part, the Cards have kept him in check.
Jackson has scored just three rushing touchdowns in those 12 games, and reached 100 yards just twice. He averages 67.4 yards per game against the Cards.
Then again, he is coming off an outstanding performance against the Saints (159 yards and two touchdowns) and rushed for 102 yards against the Cards last year at UoP when the Rams snapped an eight-game losing streak to Arizona.
Jackson hurt his quadriceps on his first carry of the season, and has just now gotten healthy to "find his groove," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said.
Jackson has spent a ton of time out injured or playing through significant injuries the past few years, but Spagnuolo said that doesn't mean his Saints' showing was fluky. Jackson said he tries to not play the "what-if" game.
"I've learned to fight through it," Jackson said, adding, "I would say you get frustrated at times. You'd like your job to be smooth sailing but that just hasn't been my career."
The Cards would like to return Jackson to his bumpy ways this week.
"He's the type of guy who you feel, if you can shut him down, you can win the game," Campbell said.
WITH KOLB DOUBTFUL, SKELTON READY
Officially, quarterback Kevin Kolb is doubtful to play with his turf toe, and John Skelton is expected to make his first start of the season.
Skelton made four starts as a rookie last season, but he said his readiness is "night and day" compared to last year.
"Last year, at the end of the year, it was a watered-down game plan," Skelton said. "We went into it with a lot of stuff that was real vanilla. This year we have the game plan that gives us the best shot at winning. I am completely comfortable with everything we have in."
Skelton should have running back Beanie Wells, who is again questionable with his knee after being limited the last two days. That was the same way it played out last week. Tight end Todd Heap is still questionable with his hamstring issue, and his return is even more important with fellow tight end Rob Housler out with his bad groin.
Linebacker Joey Porter (knee) is also out, which should give rookie Sam Acho his second straight start.
ON THE RIGHT SIDE
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said earlier that starting right tackle Brandon Keith and backup Jeremy Bridges would battle in practice this week to earn the starting spot this week. Keith was pulled from the game in Baltimore after making a couple of mistakes, but Bridges also struggled.
Whisenhunt wasn't declaring a starter Friday – it would make sense if Keith remained – and said he liked how they both practiced but his satisfaction "will really depend on how they respond on Sunday." Whomever is on the right wide must deal with Rams left defensive end Chris Long, who sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees three times last week.
"They know the sense of urgency we have for that position," Whisenhunt said. "That's what we are looking to see."
ROOF TO BE OPEN
The Cardinals plan to open the University of Phoenix Stadium roof Sunday for the first time this season.