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Plays Still Up Sleeve For Cardinals, Packers

Notes: Full game plans not unveiled in Week 16; Catanzaro feels for Walsh; Babin's hairy situation


Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer didn't use up the entire game-plan in the win over the Packers in Week 16.

The Cardinals and Packers saw each other just 16 days ago, so there is more familiarity than normal between the foes.

Secrets also remain.

The Week 16 game went sideways by midway through the third quarter as the Cardinals built a commanding lead, which allowed coach Bruce Arians to pull back the reins. Quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 238 yards in the first half as the Cards jumped ahead 17-0, then attempted only five passes after intermission and was pulled in the fourth quarter.

It has made the game-planning easier for Saturday's NFL Divisional Round rematch because some of the plays were never used.

"There's a bunch left over," Arians said.

While the Cardinals coaches appreciated the head start – the finishing touches on the game-plan were finished Tuesday morning -- it might be a bigger advantage for Green Bay. The Packers played on Sunday in Washington and flew home after the game.

They have an abbreviated week to turn their attention to the Cardinals, and they, too, have aspects they didn't use. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was also pulled in the second half of that game.

"I think when you get into those types of games, you don't ever really use everything you want to, even when things go well," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think with the preparation process, I'm thankful that with a six-day week, we just played the Cardinals a few weeks back, so there are definitely some things we can carry over."

Palmer said it's a plus to have plays still left in the tank, but believes this version of the Packers is different from late December. While that game plan went off without a hitch, it's no guarantee the holdover plays will have the same success.

"That game was not something we are hanging our hat on," Palmer said. "The way that game turned out is not what we are expecting to happen again."


Kicker Chandler Catanzaro had a rough go of it in the season finale against the Seahawks – missing an extra point and a field goal in his only two attempts – but it paled in comparison to Blair Walsh's weekend.

The Vikings kicker missed a potential game-winning 27-yard field goal in the wild card round which would have brought Minnesota here to face the Cardinals and sent the Seahawks home.

Catanzaro said he knows Walsh through punter Drew Butler – Butler and Walsh were college teammates -- and called him "a great guy."

Catanzaro seemed pained when envisioning Walsh's current situation, but knows it's a thin line between hero and goat for NFL kickers.

"I think he said it in his interview, actually: Hit a game-winner and the media comes to talk to you," Catanzaro said. "Obviously, if you miss a kick – I've missed kicks this year – and it's the same way. It's part of the job and something we have to deal with it."

The laces were facing in on Walsh's kick, which became a point of contention, although Walsh said he should have made the kick anyway. Catanzaro said he's talked to Butler, the team's field goal holder, about the best setup for kicks.

"Obviously the ball is going to fly differently if the laces are pointed left," Catanzaro said. "It's almost like dirt on a golf ball. It can affect the ball flight. I just tell Drew to hit the spot and I should make the kick regardless."


New signee Jason Babin has some history with the Cardinals. In 2013, while a member of the Jaguars, he grabbed hold of running back Andre Ellington's dreadlocks on a rush and pulled them from Ellington’s scalp. Babin then demonstrably dropped them to the grass.

Ellington isn't holding a grudge.

"At the end of the day, we were playing football," Ellington said. "Guys don't know what they are grabbing in the game, especially on defense. They say (the hair) is part of the uniform."

Babin said he had yet to talk to Ellington during his chaotic first day with the team, but "it was in the past, so I'd like to keep that behind us."

Ellington called the situation "all fun and games," and sees the advantage of getting Babin in red and white.

"I don't have to worry about it, he's on my team now," Ellington said with a smile.


Safety Tyrann Mathieu's surgery on his torn right ACL went "smooth as silk," Arians said, and the All-Pro is "in great spirits." The team is hoping to get him back for some offseason work heading into the 2016 season.

Images of the Cardinals players who have participated in the postseason

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