Darnell Dockett and the Cardinals' defensive line do a good job keeping themselves in a rotation Sunday to stay fresh.
Long after Sunday's game and after the plane ride back from Jacksonville, defensive lineman Bryan Robinson mentioned how his unit had done a good job of getting in, playing hard and then subbing out as the humidity-induced fatigue kicked in.
And safety Adrian Wilson said the most important factor to the Cards' defensive performance was fresh bodies up front.
Playing time is at a premium in the NFL. But the Cardinals' defensive line seems to understand sacrificing some of that playing time to assure a higher level of play is crucial, making self-policing of the playing rotation just as crucial.
"One of the things we said was 'Go hard every play you are out there and if you are tired, get out,' " Robinson said. "Because somebody else will roll in there. Playing up front is hard but very simple when you think in terms of what you have to do. They can only block you so many ways."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt praised the depth on the defense, and Robinson said the linebackers were also in on the in-and-out. But the line – starters Robinson, Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, with reserves Alan Branch, Gabe Watson and, with Kenny Iwebema out, Keilen Dykes – couldn't afford to wear down.
That wasn't just because of the Jaguars, either. There is a bigger picture involved.
"We were thinking of the next game too," Dockett said of the upcoming meeting with the Colts. "When you get great rotation, you take stress off your body for the following week. There have been times when you play the whole game and no matter what kind of break you had, the following week that Sunday you can't get your step back."
The trust factor is important to let someone come in and take your spot. But that trust has been building, Robinson said, and Dockett added the reserves don't want to be the ones to let anyone down when they come in.
As far as lost playing time, Robinson figures the right rotation now could help create more playing time in January.
"You want stats because, essentially in this business, that's how you get paid," Robinson said. "But we also had a taste of going to the playoffs and the Super Bowl too. That's the flip side. Which one do you prefer? Because if you are a winner, well, other teams recognize winners. Your organization hopefully thinks they can win with you. And that's just as important as far as I am concerned."
WARNER SAYS SHOULDER IS FINE
Twice, quarterback Kurt Warner got hit early in the game to aggravate the shoulder issue he had the previous week. One happened early on a completion where Warner was drilled on an unblocked cornerback blitz. The second came on Beanie Wells' second fumble, when Warner tried to get in on the return and was pushed to the ground, landing on the shoulder.
But Warner said other than being a little sore, he was fine, and downplayed his exit of the game Sunday.
"I told Coach whenever he felt comfortable with the situation I'd come out just to avoid any other hits," Warner said. "I told him I could (play) and said, 'If you feel comfortable, I'd rather not take any extra hits on it.' "
STEALING A RECORD
Warner downplayed the single-game completion record, acknowledging that while it was "cool, it's one of those games where everything seemed to work in my favor."
"As much as it points to an individual, it's about the team," Warner said. "Anquan makes a one-handed catch, there were a couple of plays where I had to throw the ball away, there happened to be penalties. There was so much involved that it almost feels like I stole the record a little bit because it feels like I didn't have to do a whole lot."
The only two injuries Whisenhunt talked about were the sprained ankle of tackle Levi Brown – who came back in to play – and a sore quadricep for safety Antrel Rolle. Rolle said his knee had been hurt Sunday, but Monday Whisenhunt said it was Rolle's quad.
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