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Tackling Big Ben A Big Concern


Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett sacks Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the Cards' win in Arizona in 2007.

Ken Whisenhunt remembers what Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can do despite pressure.

The Cardinals coach, who was the Steelers? offensive coordinator during Super Bowl XL, recalled Roethlisberger ? all 6-foot-5, 240 pounds of him ? scrambling all the way to his left and then being able to heave the ball back all the way to the right side for a completion.

?He?s got a knack for escaping tackles,? Cardinals defensive end Antonio Smith said. ?A lot of his big plays are plays that looked like they were busted, where he looked like he was going to be sacked and he could keep that arm free. He can have people hanging on him and make a throw 40 or 50 yards downfield.?

Bringing down Roethlisberger when they have a chance will be one of the biggest keys to the Cards? success in Super Bowl XLIII. The Cardinals did a good job of thatin the teams? meeting in 2007, when Arizona sacked Roethlisberger four times in addition to forcing a pair of interceptions.

The Cardinals all agree that game has no bearing on this one, other than the defense understands the difficulty of its task in tackling Roethlisberger. The pass rushers can?t allow Roethlisberger to ?prolong the down,? defensive end Bertrand Berry said, and make things hard for the Cards? defensive backs.

?That will hold the defensive line accountable because those guys back there have to cover ? they can?t cover and come up and try to make sacks,? defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. ?We have to do that.?


After practice ended Saturday, most of the players quickly headed over to the equipment area of the locker room, where Super Bowl tickets were being distributed. Players were given two tickets but could purchase up to 13 more, and many shuffled through them afterward to see where family and friends would be sitting in Tampa.

?It definitely makes it seem like it is happening now,? defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. ?You knew it would come soon, but with the tickets in your hands, it?s ?This is here now.? It?s crazy.?

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin figured the stampede was in part so the players could have one less thing to deal with once they go to Tampa.

?The biggest thing is guys want to get it out of the way so it doesn?t become a distraction down there,? Boldin said. ?I have seen a lot of guys going back and forth about the whole ticket thing. Guys just want to get rid of the problem right now.?


Whisenhunt said defensive end Travis LaBoy is getting more comfortable with his biceps injury. LaBoy is wearing a special brace and Whisenhunt said the Cards will ?get more of a focused look? at how LaBoy will be for Super Bowl Sunday.

The only other injury issue remains running back J.J. Arrington, although the Cards are hopeful he can play on his sore knee next week.


Whisenhunt was in a good mood Saturday. Talking about what safety Aaron Francisco has done this season, Whisenhunt praised Francisco and said his future with the team looked good, before adding with a chuckle, ?if he would tuck the ball away.? Francisco made an interception in the NFC Championship game only to be stripped for a fumble on the runback.

With that scenario, Whisenhunt was asked if he told Dockett to next time hit the ground with a late fumble recovery, after Dockett instead tried to score on the final play of the Eagles? game.

?Yes I did,? Whisenhunt said, again laughing. ?But how much does Darnell actually listen to you about those types of things??

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