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Some Cards Not Caught Short

Players like Adams, Stephens-Howling overcome size to make team

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Despite their small size, both LaRod Stephens-Howling (left) and Michael Adams (right) made the Cards' roster.
 
 
Perhaps they took the "short" out of their shortcomings.
 
Perhaps they just were too good to be let go.

It's hard not to notice, though, that a couple of the Cardinals on the bubble to make the roster last week could be considered vertically challenged. Cornerback Michael Adams is listed at 5-foot-8, although he said he's more like 5-7. Rookie running back LaRod Stephens-Howling is actually listed at 5-7. Even Lance Long, who is 5-11, isn't going to be confused with the 6-3 Larry Fitzgerald or even the 6-1 Anquan Boldin.

They are still Cardinals, though, finding a way to stick in the NFL.

"We've been this size our whole lives, so we have always been the small guys on the field – it's not like it just happened," Stephens-Howling said.

Ask them why, and they can't be sure. Adams spent chunks of the past two seasons on the practice squad and knows he had a better preseason this year than any other. Besides, Adams said, "a lot of short guys have real good work ethic and these coaches admire that."

Long probably was the least likely of the trio to make the roster and may have not if it hadn't been for Early Doucet's rib injury. His play in the preseason became inconsistent – coach Ken Whisenhunt said Long likely was worn down by the end of August with as much as he had to play – but his practice play had long been consistently impressive.

"It doesn't matter if you are whatever, 5-foot-7 or 6-foot-7, if you are dependable and accountable, coaches are going to play you," Long said. "I feel like it should be like that in the NFL and I feel like it is like that – not necessarily all the time but most of the time."

Size matters, of course. Stephens-Howling noted that smaller players must be sound in their technique because they can get away with mistakes every once in a while like a bigger player might. There are also limits on a guy's upside based on size; right now, Adams is ahead of rookie Greg Toler on the depth chart, but as the raw Toler chips away at his learning curve, Adams (and veteran Ralph Brown, who happens to be only 5-10) is the one he would likely surpass for playing time.

"I feel I worked hard enough to be in a position to make it," Adams said. "But I don't feel a sense of accomplishment because I have been here long enough to see people come and go, and today or tomorrow could be my last day."

Stephens-Howling may have had the greatest underdog story. As big of a deal as it was for him to make the team, he admitted he still didn't get as emotional as the day he was drafted. Why? Well, in part it was because he was worried about not having enough film, after he was pushed to a backup role his final two seasons.

But it was also because he was small.

"Size and all that," Stephens-Howling said. "If I could just get a shot, I thought if I worked hard I've have a chance to make the team."

SOME NUMBERS

It's that time of year, where games begin counting for real and I'll try to bring you some statistical nuggets to chew on every Tuesday, when things slow down just a bit on the players' day off.

For instance, Cardinals quarterback is 9-1 as a starter versus the 49ers in his career (and the one loss was the heartbreaking overtime game in 2007, when Warner threw for 484 yards).

This Sunday will mark Warner's 32nd start in a row, including postseason games.

The Cards have won seven straight games against NFC West teams, including all six last season.

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