The Cardinals swarm over Seattle running back Louis Rankin Sunday.
The names were pointed out to Ken Whisenhunt, a daunting trio of runners the Cardinals must face over the next three weeks: Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson.
"It's going to be a challenge," the Cardinals' coach acknowledged.
Slowing the opposition against the run may sway the upcoming games on the Cards' schedule. The Cards were surprised Sunday during their 31-20 win over Seattle when Justin Forsett – subbing for the injured Julius Jones – found room to run for a career-high 123 yards on 17 carries.
But if the Cards can continue to clamp down in the red zone, they should be OK. For all the yards the Seahawks had Sunday, they scored just three second-half points as the Cards rallied.
"You bend but you don't break," linebacker Clark Haggans said. "If you can hold them to a field goal instead of giving up seven I think that, after awhile, it kills their morale."
The Cardinals historically have found a way to handle Jackson, who is next up. Jackson is having a Pro Bowl season for the last-place Rams, but in the eight games he has played against the Cards during his career, Jackson has yet to notch a 100-yard performance. He has averaged just 55.3 yards rushing in those eight games.
It will help if the Cardinals can get starting linebacker Gerald Hayes back in the lineup. Hayes has missed two straight games with back problems, with Ali Highsmith filling in for him.
"He's a physical presence," Whisenhunt said. "He certainly brings a toughness to our defense. That's not to downgrade Ali … but whenever you put players in there that don't have the experience Gerald has, there is generally going to be a little bit of a drop-off."
Grading our Highsmith, Whisenhunt said the second-year linebacker made some mistakes but "you have to live with some of those things."
"At this time of year," Whisenhunt said, "you're going to have to play with some guys and be able to overcome some things."
Whisenhunt added later the Cards need to tackle better against the run but reiterated injuries have played a role in the run defense. "We are not satisfied with what we gave up (Sunday)," he said. "(But) the way we stood up in the red zone and kept them from scoring touchdowns definitely made a difference in the game."
BEANIE AS STARTER?
After his 85-yard, two-touchdown performance, it was probably inevitable Whisenhunt would again be asked about rookie running back Beanie Wells starting. Whisenhunt wasn't making any commitments.
"That's an issue that when it comes, it comes," Whisenhunt said. "We're not going to make Beanie the starter just to make Beanie the starter. The rotation we have going now has been very effective."
At one point Sunday, TV cameras caught safety Adrian Wilson and defensive end Darnell Dockett jawing after the Cards fell behind, 14-0. The incident meant nothing in the long term, but it illustrated the frustration the Cards felt being behind to a team they felt they should beat.
"We actually chewed each other out (as a team) at halftime because we actually were playing down to their level," Dockett said. "We didn't play to the level we did against the New York Giants. We came back and realized, 'What would it look like if we lose a game to Seattle, a game we're supposed to win?' I think that hit people in the heart."
The blown coverage on Seahawks tight end John Carlson – with which Carlson turned into a 31-yard touchdown catch – wasn't on Wilson but cornerback Bryant McFadden, Whisenhunt said. In a three-deep coverage, Wilson was supposed to handle the receiver in the flat, McFadden any receiver going deep. …
Whisenhunt said the Cardinals would be conservative in their attempts to bring back Pro Bowl special teamer Sean Morey from a concussion. Morey was inactive Sunday. "We'll err on the side of caution," Whisenhunt said, noting Morey "agrees with that on Saturday and gets mad Sunday when he can't play." …
Whisenhunt had no new injury news from the game. There is hope linebacker Chike Okeafor (back) and tight end Ben Patrick (knee) will be able to practice this week.
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