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Good Bye

Despite break coming early in the schedule, Cardinals should benefit from weekend off

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The Cardinals will try to get healthy and refocus during the early bye week.
 
 
Back in April, when the schedule originally was released, coach Ken Whisenhunt said he was "not thrilled" that his team had a bye after just three games.

The reality was the reigning conference champions were normally slotted for such an early bye. And frankly, all these months later, the Cardinals look like they are getting a bye at the right time.
Players can heal, whether it's Anquan Boldin's hamstring or Steve Breaston's knee or Darnell Dockett's ankle or Kurt Warner's shoulder/hip. More importantly, it's a chance to regroup, because certainly, this team did not expect to be staring a 1-2 record – and the way they got to such a record – during their time off.

"We can get back to working on the fundamentals," veteran nose tackle Bryan Robinson said. "At least I hope that is what we are going to do."

The emotion of the moment, spurred by Sunday night's disappointing 31-10 loss to the Colts, led Whisenhunt toward working his team hard this week. Logically, Whisenhunt knows that is unrealistic, with the injuries and the reality of the NFL. Instead, there will be two short practices Wednesday and Thursday and then a three-day weekend.

For fans aching for answers, it's probably not a preferred path. Under the circumstances, though, Whisenhunt deems it correct.

"We are going to work to create a sense of urgency," Whisenhunt said. "I don't want to say 1-2 is OK because it is not."

Warner isn't sure this is the right time for a bye, although he acknowledged there are always arguments against it. If you're playing well, you don't want to lose momentum. If you're not – a category the Cardinals are in right now – you want the chance to get back to the field.

"We know what we are capable of doing and we're just not doing it right now," Warner said. "Maybe this week-and-a-half or two weeks will give us an opportunity to go back to fundamentals and start doing little things again.

"Maybe we can get back to playing the way we're accustomed to playing and get on a roll."

The bye came after six games a year ago, when the Cards sat after their thrilling overtime win against Dallas. The first game back was a loss that could have and maybe should have been a win in Carolina, but then the Cards won three straight to take control of the NFC West.

This year, with the Cardinals embarking on a stretch of five road games in seven weeks following the Oct. 11 home game against the Texans, Whisenhunt's team would love to repeat that post-bye success.

The NFC West, with the 49ers only 2-1 and the Seahawks 1-2 and beat up, remains wide open. Nationally, the pundits seem to be preaching patience in judging the Cards rather than believing they have fallen off.

 "We've just got to stay together as a team," running back Tim Hightower said.

SOME NUMBERS

While none of the Cardinals' trio of 1,000-yard receivers are on pace to repeat such a performance, the Cardinals do have four players on pace to crack 900 yards receiving: Larry Fitzgerald (965 yards), Anquan Boldin (912), Steve Breaston (944) and Hightower (917).

Safety Antrel Rolle, who did not have a sack in his NFL career before 2009, has 1½ this season.

Punter Ben Graham has averaged 50.3 yards a punt (and has a 42.1-yard net average), one of four punters league-wide with an average of more than 50 yards. The franchise record in a season is 45.6, set by Jerry Norton in 1960.
 
 

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