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Defending The Air

Notebook: Cards eye Seattle receiver; Roberts entrenched as punt returner

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Cornerback Greg Toler (left) covers Seahawks receiver Mike Williams when the Cardinals visited Seattle a few games ago.




Cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Michael Adams were looking at the game statistics book on the bus in Minnesota last week when they saw Brett Favre had thrown for more than 400 yards.

"It was like, '400? Where'd that come from?' " Rodgers-Cromartie said.

The defensive backs remain together, DRC insisted, important this week especially against a Seahawks offense that used reborn receiver Mike Williams to beat up seemingly everyone in the defensive backfield three weeks ago in Seattle.

Williams had 11 catches for 87 yards and Seattle's lone touchdown in that game, beating at various times both DRC and fellow starting cornerback Greg Toler (and safety Matt Ware on his touchdown).

"He's a phenomenal athlete," Toler said. "Everyone goes through their trials and tribulations. On the field, you can't tell. You have be physical with him, be aggressive with him. Switch up technique, make him think."

Toler said the Cards need to focus on slowing Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch first, because that is how the Seahawks prefer to attack. At some point, however, Williams should be in play.

Williams expects the Cards to be ready for him, not that they weren't the first time – especially his battles with DRC. "There were some plays in the game where he was right there, in position, and for whatever reason the ball placement allowed us to make plays," Williams said.

With Williams standing 6-foot-5, "he got that body thing down pat," DRC said. "You can't get around his body, so the main thing this week is stay inside him and beat him to the ball."

That and make sure, as a defense, the Cards play well until the very end.

"We held (the Vikings) for most of the game, at the end of the game, they just made more plays," Toler said. "We just have to make sure we finish."

ROBERTS IN A DIFFERENT PLACE


The last time the Cardinals played the Seahawks, rookie punt returner Andre Roberts was in a miserable place, having muffed and then fumbled away a crucial kick that lead to a momentum-swinging touchdown.

Since then, however, Roberts has steadied his play. He has entrenched himself as the team's return man, and even scored his first touchdown last week as a receiver on an impressive 30-yard catch-and-run in Minnesota.

Roberts' fumble in Seattle was, at the time, only the latest of a rough training camp and beginning to the regular season. He smiled when it was brought up again this week, with the Seahawks coming for a return engagement.

"Things like that, the bad things, you have to take them out of your mind and keep working," he said. "Of course I remember (the fumble) but I try to forget and move on."

Roberts said getting experience – and lots of reps in both practice and games – has helped him as return man. And he sounds like he has a believer in coach Ken Whisenhunt.

 "With young guys, that's what you have to go through," Whisenhunt said. "Your hope is that you'll see what we're seeing with Andre now, and that's that he is developing into a good football player for us.

"It's a whole different perspective for me now when he's back there returning kicks than it was four or five weeks ago."

SCHOFIELD'S DEVELOPMENT


Another member of the rookie class, linebacker O'Brien Schofield, also got his first work on defense last week in only his second NFL game. The Cards hope he can become a pass rusher of note down the road, but Whisenhunt pumped the brakes on expecting too much right now.

Whisenhunt said in all honesty, he didn't even expect Schofield to play this year after having major reconstructive surgery in January. Friday was only Schofield's 12th NFL practice – with the knee problem, he didn't do anything with the team until four weeks ago – and so, Whisenhunt said, "Am I comfortable putting him out there? No."

But Whisenhunt said he is impressed with Schofield's work ethic, both physically and mentally. That doesn't overcome the fact Schofield was a college defensive end, however, and not only is learning the NFL game but also a new position.

"We know that, at some point, he's going to get more and more playing time," Whisenhunt said. "But to think he's going to line up and play a lot for us in games is unrealistic."

FOOD DRIVE SUNDAY


The Cardinals and Sagicor Life Insurance have joined St. Mary's Food Bank for its annual holiday food drive. Wives and girlfriends of players and front-office personnel, along with volunteers and cheerleaders, will man collection points at all five entry gates at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday prior to the Cards-Seahawks game. Fans are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items and/or money.

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