Rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (right) has a chance to supplant veteran starter Eric Green (left) as the season moves forward.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt did not make any official changes in his starting lineup Wednesday – the Cardinals didn't even practice, since they do not play until Monday – but he left a hint of what could be.
Asked if rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could push starter Eric Green for playing time, Whisenhunt said "I do" and then gave an answer eerily similar to the one he gave last week when asked about Tim Hightower replacing Edgerrin James.
"The way (DRC) has played, he has improved, and much like a lot of our younger players have done, when they have shown they can handle a little bit more, they are going to get those opportunities," Whisenhunt said. "It really comes down to us playing the best players, the ones who give us the best chance to win."
After Whisenhunt said the same things last week, Hightower then did start over James. Events in St. Louis seem to put the cornerback spot in the same situation.
Green has been dealing with a sore knee but has struggled this season. He gave up the 80-yard touchdown completion to Rams rookie receiver Derek Stanley in St. Louis, a play that was an impressive catch by Stanley but also marked by Green's stopping after the catch instead of trying to make a tackle.
Whisenhunt said Green told him he thought Stanley had stepped out of bounds. After the play, Rodgers-Cromartie looked like he received the bulk of the playing time over Green when the Cards used just two cornerbacks.
"That was unexpected that early," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "I usually just sit and wait until they call my number."
Green acknowledged it was like he was "re-living something all over again I thought was over," after battling for a starting job not only when Dennis Green was coach but also last season, when he, Rod Hood and Antrel Rolle were fighting for two spots.
"They are going to do what they want, they are going to do what's best for the team," Green said. "But it is what it is. You can't quit. You can only control what you can control. You have an opportunity that comes up, (fine), if not, it's part of life, it's part of football.
"All I can do is continue playing football and try to help the team as much as I can."
Rodgers-Cromartie, the team's No. 1 draft pick, said he, like most players, likes to play as much as possible. But he added he wouldn't mind sitting, watching and learning because that would be a benefit as well.
"Whichever one, I am fine with," Rodgers-Cromartie said.
Whisenhunt reiterated Wednesday he is willing to do offensively "whatever gives us the best chance to win." But with the emergence of Tim Hightower in St. Louis – and to a lesser extent, the success of backup J.J. Arrington – Whisenhunt said it was "encouraging" to run the ball almost half the time in a game.
The Cardinals ran 33 times against the Rams, including two Kurt Warner kneel-downs at the end of the game. They tried 35 passes (34 Warner throws, one sack).
"I think that is a good ingredient to being successful, especially in the back half of the season and I know in the playoffs," Whisenhunt said. "I am not going to ignore the fact we are a good passing team. But I don't want to lose the physical mentality the offensive line has established. … You don't want to lose touch from the standpoint where we will have games where we have to run the football."
The Cardinals were run-heavy in their season-opener in San Francisco against the 49ers – who visit Arizona Monday night. In that game, the Cards ran it 39 times (including kneel-downs) and tried 33 pass plays.
The Cardinals didn't practice Wednesday but still had to release an injury report as if there would have been practice, and it was lengthy.
Tight end Leonard Pope (ankle) was listed as if he would not practice, and that will likely follow until Thursday. The other seven players were all listed as limited, which means they will likely be limited Thursday as well: tight ends Ben Patrick (knee) and Jerame Tuman (ankle), defensive end/linebacker Travis LaBoy (groin), tackle Mike Gandy (ankle), wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald (thumb) and Sean Morey (hamstring) and Green (knee).
Gandy, Green and Fitzgerald are expected to be able to play against the 49ers. The rest of the limited group will likely be day-to-day.
Rookie linebacker Ali Highsmith blew out his right ACL on a non-contact play, when his foot got caught in the Edward Jones Dome field turf during a punt. Highsmith wouldn't blame the turf, however, saying "who is to say if it would have happened if it was the turf or the grass? You never really know." Surgery has not yet been scheduled. …
Whisenhunt called the Cardinals' number of penalties "disturbing." With 62 penalties this season, the Cards – who led the NFL in penalties last season – are tied with Green Bay and Tampa Bay for most penalties in the NFL.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 11/5/08.