Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is surprised but understands why teams may not throw his way much after he attained Pro Bowl status.
One thing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wants everyone to understand: That guy who admittedly would lose focus at times in games the past two seasons? "I am past that," he said.
That's probably a good thing, since – given his Pro Bowl status at cornerback, the fact the Cards generally play him on one side and don't send him back and forth to match up with top receivers, and the presence of the untested Greg Toler on the other side – teams may avoid DRC for the time being.
The Rams didn't throw DRC's way until the game was well into the third quarter. DRC said he expected to have a slow first quarter, but not that he'd have to wait that long.
"Because the corner I have in GT (Toler), I know as good as he is and once they realized that, they'd have to go to both sides," Rodgers-Cromartie said.
Except they didn't. Toler ended up being credited with a team-high 11 tackles and coach Ken Whisenhunt was impressed with both Toler's physical play and his overall performance. Toler, meanwhile, knows DRC's reputation may make him busy for now.
"Having a Pro Bowl corner like Dominique on the other side, it's hard to stop them from picking on you," Toler said. "He's a great player, so until you earn the respect of other teams to not throw at you as much, they are going to come at you. It's expected."
Rodgers-Cromartie lamented the interception he felt he should have pulled down in the end zone on the Rams' next-to-last drive (it would have been an amazing pick had he held on). Whisenhunt noted the long catch-and-run DRC allowed on third-and-16 late in the game, but said that had nothing to do with DRC's concentration.
Instead, Whisenhunt said his star cornerback was physical – a change from last season – and was effective. This week, the Cards see Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (who was thrown at 23 times in Atlanta's opener) and the Falcons openly are wondering if DRC is sent White's way.
Regardless, Rodgers-Cromartie is having a hard time comprehending his lack of work – not that he'll let it affect him.
"I don't want to believe that they won't look my way, because I am so young and I feel like I haven't proved to you yet to not come this way," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "I'm not six, seven, eight years in the league. It was hard to understand that. Now coaches helped me understand that. I can't get bored. I have to be focused. Any given time, they can take that shot."
It's been an odd beginning of a career for third-round pick Andre Roberts. Not only did he have trouble consistently catching the ball in training camp, but the Cardinals coincidentally brought in a pair of undrafted rookies – Stephen Williams and Max Komar – who surprised with their consistency at the position.
Then Roberts hurt his shoulder early in the second preseason game, sidelining him until last week. He wasn't healthy enough soon enough to make a legitimate run at being active in the opener, but now that Early Doucet is out with hernia surgery, the Cardinals need Roberts.
"He has worked and looked good this week," Whisenhunt said. "I am excited to see how he responds in the game."
Roberts said the time off has been frustrating. He also insists he doesn't feel extra pressure to show he is worthy of being a third-round pick.
"Whenever you are in there you have to perform, regardless of your draft status," Roberts said. "If the undrafted guy is playing better, that's the guy who is going to play. (But) I was drafted in the third round and I am sure they expect me to be a third-round player."
WHISENHUNT GOES HOME
Whisenhunt grew up in Augusta, Georgia, played college ball at Georgia Tech (where the Cards will hold their Saturday walkthrough) and played part of his professional career with the Falcons. That means the coach has been forced to come up with "a lot of tickets" for Sunday's game.
"It is nice because you have a lot of friends there, you see family, even though it's for a short time, and you definitely have a lot of memories from playing college and pro ball there," Whisenhunt said. "But we have become attached to Arizona and it feels like home to us."
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