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O-line Seeks Fundamental Truth

Blockers know spotlight is on as they work on their game


Left tackle Mike Gandy drops into pass protection during the Cardinals' game against the Colts last weekend at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Fundamentals and technique were the buzzwords for Ken Whisenhunt this week, with the Cardinals coach using the bye week to improve on the basics of football.

Perhaps that held no greater importance than to the offensive line, which has endured the attention brought from struggles in both of the Cards? two losses.

?This is the lowest we?ve been after three games as far as mental errors are concerned,? said offensive line coach Russ Grimm, who also is the run game coordinator.  ?Our breakdowns have been technique, where the help is coming from, whether it?s a kick-step or hands up, whatever it is, we just have to be mentally stronger in that.?

During practice Wednesday and Thursday -- the team has this weekend off because of the bye -- Whisenhunt and Grimm turned back to their message that came after the first game against San Francisco. After that loss, Whisenhunt said the line needed to work on techniques, and it seemed to work well in the Jacksonville victory after quarterback Kurt Warner set an NFL record for completion percentage.

But the Colts visited with Pro Bowl pass rushers in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The Cards fell behind in the game, and the line had its difficulties keeping pressure away from Warner. So Grimm reverted back in practice as well.

 ?We used this week to work on a little bit of the details and get back to the basics,? Grimm said.
Added left tackle Mike Gandy, ?We work on fundamentals every day in practice.  We have to get better, play better and eliminate mistakes.?

Warner, who has been sacked seven times this season (all in the two losses), feels the offense isn?t surprised by what they see from the opposition?s pass rush.

?We are seeing the schemes we see in practice, the schemes we see on film, again we are just not executing well enough right now,? said Warner.

Balance would help. Against the Colts ? because the Cards fell behind ? the Cardinals threw 52 passes and had 12 rush attempts, helping skew the Cards? rushing yards per game to an NFL-low 60.7.

Against the Jaguars, the pass-run ratio was 32 to 28, and it?s not a coincidence that was the line?s best game.

?We?ll get better at that,? said Whisenhunt.  ?But it would help to be able to stay with the plan, to run the ball more, to use play-actions, to be able to move the ball earlier in the game because it keeps those guys off-balance.?

In the end, though, ?it?s always about the fundamentals; it?s those little things that really help a team,? right guard Deuce Lutui said.  ?The little things help the big picture.?

And in the big picture, the line understands they were a Super Bowl group a season ago blocking for the most prolific passing offense in franchise history.

 ?It?s only three games in, you know,? left guard Reggie Wells said. ?We got off to a tough start against San Francisco and we came back and played well against Jacksonville.  It?s something we just have to keep working at.  We?re not panicking by any means.  Whatever is being said is going to continue to be said until we fix it. 

?It?s never as good as it seems when you?re on top and it?s never as bad as it seems when you?re struggling.?

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