Former Cardinals offensive lineman Leonard Davis (75 in the Cards' uniform; 70 in the Dallas uniform in the inset) has been a Pro Bowler for the Cowboys.
When defensive tackle Gabe Watson was a rookie in 2006, he had plenty of chances to battle then-teammate Leonard Davis in practice.
"I noticed that when you made him mad, he'd go super-hard," said Watson, who will likely match up with Davis – now a Pro Bowl guard for Dallas – often this weekend.
"I'm going to try and not make him too mad. I'll just play the game. I know he's going to bring it. He's probably got a chip on his shoulder and has something to prove, to show the Cardinals he's a good player."
The saga of Davis as a Cardinal was long and complex, starting when he was drafted No. 2 overall by the Cards in 2001. A tackle in college, then-coach Dave McGinnis wanted to use Davis at guard, which is where Davis started his career.
He played some tackle when injuries occurred, but when coach Dennis Green was hired in 2004, he insisted Davis – whose salary was huge because of his draft status – needed to play tackle, in part because of that huge salary.
Davis did so, although privately he believed he would be better at guard. With his salary near $10 million in 2006, the final year of his contract, the Cards decided to let him leave as a free agent. While the Cards never were going to offer the seven-year, $49 million deal Davis got with the Cowboys, Davis was also happy to move on, tired of playing tackle, tired of the team's lack of success and tired of being labeled a bust.
Davis went to Dallas to play guard. He made his first Pro Bowl in his first season, a combination of a position change and a higher-profile team.
"The thing is if you look at it, I didn't play any different," Davis told the Dallas Morning News. "I don't feel I'm playing any different now than I was playing then."
The Cowboys haven't stopped gushing about Davis' play since he arrived.
"When we played against him (when I was) at San Diego and he was a tackle, I thought he was the best tackle we played against," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "I think he's the best guard in the league."
Said quarterback Tony Romo, "I think he has helped change the identity of the offensive line here from previous years back to the way it was in the early '90s."
Watson remembers a lot of locker room talk about Davis better suited to play guard. Now Davis is a star guard for Sunday's opponent.
"He went to Dallas and did a good job," Watson said. "He made a Pro Bowl … and a whole bunch of money."
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (facial surgery) was out at most of practice Thursday, although he did not participate and left the field a few minutes early, ahead of both his teammates and the media.
While it seems highly unlikely Boldin plays against Dallas, coach Ken Whisenhunt said he couldn't rule out Boldin and Boldin's return "is all a question how quickly he is ready to go."
Boldin and tight end Ben Patrick (knee) remained the only injured players who couldn't practice at all.
The rest of the list remained unchanged, with six players -- CB Rod Hood (groin), CB Eric Green (groin), LB Clark Haggans (groin), TE Jerame Tuman (hamstring), DE Bertrand Berry (groin) and S Adrian Wilson (hamstring) – still limited. Hood did seem to do more than he had Wednesday, as did Haggans.
IN AND OUT
Phillips was talking about his running back tandem of Marion Barber and Felix Jones when he made a serious historical reference, circa 1946.
"We've got, not (Army greats) Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard, but we've got Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside," Phillips said, lending the nicknames of Davis and Blanchard to his players.
Barber is the Cowboys' workhorse, while Jones – a rookie – has already scored four touchdowns and is averaging nine yards a carry.
"Obviously they will tailor their runs to the back that is in there," Whisenhunt said. "Felix Jones is a threat on the perimeter when he is in there. Marion Barber is an inside runner, strong runner. It doesn't mean they won't run an outside toss with Mario Barber. You just have to be aware of the tendencies where they are going to go."
The Cardinals have a bye weekend after the Dallas game, but Whisenhunt reiterated Thursday that would not affect decisions one way or the other on whether to play guys who are nursing injuries.
"I don't think you can do that," Whisenhunt said. "Every game you have to play to win the game. I don't think you can look at it like that because you might miss an opportunity to win a big game." …
The Cardinals officially announced the game as a sellout Thursday, while the team continues to hope fans hold off from selling tickets to Dallas fans.
"It's hard not to tell someone not to sell something when they can make money, but we just want our (home-field) advantage," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "We have fought hard for that."
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 10/9/08.