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Talking Football In The Locker Room


Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt (left) shows a DVD of the team's draft picks during Tuesday morning's locker room breakfast at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt stood in front of the 120 or so guests at Tuesday morning's annual locker room breakfast talking about the end of the 2007 season – and how the 2008 season basically began the next day.

"You don't really get a break in this business," Whisenhunt said.

The event was held for Cardinals Charities at University of Phoenix Stadium, with each member of the coaching staff sitting at a table chatting with guests. General manager Rod Graves and Whisenhunt each spoke about the offseason so far before Whisenhunt analyzed many of the Cards' new draft choices.

Then came a question-and-answer session, which generated a little bit of news from Whisenhunt -- most notably that kicker Neil Rackers underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia, an injury that may have played a role in his 2007 struggles. Rackers has been participating in the offseason workouts, however, and is expected to be OK heading into minicamp.

Among the other tidbits:

-- Whisenhunt said the team had an easier time convincing undrafted rookies to sign this season because the team had more success in 2008, a tangible sign of progress;

-- Second-year fullback Tim Castille, who made the team has an undrafted rookie last year, has bulked up and "looks great" at 242 pounds from the high 220s. Whisenhunt used the example in talking about how first-round pick Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – who only weighs about 189 pounds right now – will likely put on some weight.

-- Whisenhunt has heard good things about punter Dirk Johnson from Johnson's one-time Eagles coach, Andy Reid, and is confident Johnson can be effective this year.

-- Whisenhunt also got the requisite question about his quarterback situation, in which he reiterated that Matt Leinart was the starter.

"When you finish the season on a high note as we did, the natural tendency is to say, 'Let's go with Kurt' because the emotions, at the moment, that's what your gut instinct will tell you," Whisenhunt said. "But you look back at where we were in the fifth game when he got hurt, Matt was doing a good job for us, he was growing, he was making progress as a starter. People have a tendency to forget about that."

Whisenhunt touched on what had originally been a one-game plan to use Warner in the no-huddle offense against Baltimore, mostly because the coaching staff didn't want to overload Leinart's learning curve.

The Cards obviously stuck with the two-quarterback system when Warner had success, but Whisenhunt added it wasn't the plan for 2008.

"This year, Matt hopefully will be ready for that" and eliminate the two-quarterback system, Whisenhunt said.

"But if Matt is not ready for that, we would not hesitate to use Kurt."

Contact Darren Urban at Posted 4/29/08.

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