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DRC The Playmaker

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 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (29), here being congratulated by teammate Chike Okeafor after his touchdown against the Rams, has become a playmaker of late.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had an inkling he might be able to get to Ryan Longwell's field-goal attempt last weekend – he often can tell early in a game whether his athletic ability will allow him to make such a play.

"I can get a feel for it," Rodgers-Cromartie said.

The rookie indeed stretched out his 6-foot-2 frame to make the improbable block from the side on a 34-yard field-goal attempt, leading to Rod Hood's 68-yard touchdown return. It was just another example – after his 99-yard interception return for a score the week before against St. Louis, or his game-clinching interception in Seattle – of Rodgers-Cromartie as an emerging difference-maker.

"That's very important to me, not to just be a good corner but a playmaker," Rodgers-Cromartie said.

Rodgers-Cromartie's potential has become obvious. The Sporting News will soon unveil a package in an upcoming issue about the soon-to-break-out stars of various sports, and the Cards' first-round pick is the magazine's NFL selection.

Rodgers-Cromartie's reputation already seems to be growing, with the Vikings choosing to go after veteran Rod Hood rather than "DRC."

"He's made some big plays for them," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose team hosts the Cards Sunday. "That was really a great play he made last week against Minnesota, the blocked field goal. He showed great burst and timing coming off the edge. The long interception return against St. Louis -- he's had a couple of them."

Rodgers-Cromartie is convinced such plays will increase as he learns the game.

"Some of it just has to do with your God-given ability and understanding what you can do on the football field," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "You have to execute and use it to your full potential."

NO GLOVE STORY

With the weather forecasted to be below freezing Sunday in New England, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner already is set in one regard – he wears gloves on both hands all the time.

"Hopefully they'll help," Warner said.

Perhaps the Warner influence is spreading. Backup Matt Leinart began trying out gloves Tuesday and continued Wednesday. Then again, asked if he might wear gloves full-time, Leinart quickly said "no chance."

Leinart acknowledged Warner probably didn't plan to use gloves all the time either.

"More power to him but I just can't -- it just doesn't work for me," Leinart said. "Just for the weather."

INJURY REPORT

The Cardinals were a little more dinged up than normal Wednesday and need some key players to heal up before the weekend. J.J. Arrington – who has emerged as the team's most productive running back – sat out with a sore knee, while wide receiver Anquan Boldin (shoulder) and defensive end Travis LaBoy (ankle) also were sidelined.

All three are still expected to be available by the weekend.

Safety Adrian Wilson (toe) was limited.

PLAYOFF TICKETS ON SALE SATURDAY

Tickets for the Cardinals' first-round playoff game (either Jan. 3 or 4) go on sale to the general public Saturday. Tickets will be available by phone (800-745-3000) or through ticketmaster.com beginning at 7 a.m. Sales will be limited to those with Arizona billing addresses.

Tickets can also be purchased at either the team's Tempe complex or the University of Phoenix Stadium box office beginning at 9 a.m. There is a limit of eight tickets per transaction.


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 12/17/08.

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