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That Conner Intensity, And Friday Before The Cowboys

The play had ended, the whistle had blown, and yet James Conner emerged from the pile refusing to wait for Giants' defenders to climb off first and invigorating the State Farm Stadium crowd. The running back had a good game – 106 yards rushing – but he also again showed himself to be the emotional leader of the offense.

If not the whole team.

"It definitely just comes natural," Conner said. "The atmosphere plays a part. Giants fans traveled well so it was kind of a split stadium, so it was getting our side involved a little bit.

"I'm trying to send a message to our team and myself, honestly. I'm going to be the player I am regardless of who is on the other side of us. The message is for our team, to let them know I'm coming to play."

Larry Fitzgerald used to be the hype man for the Cardinals, jumping up after a big catch – especially at home – and letting out a primal scream that no one could hear over the din of the crowd but with body language that was enough.

Conner is that guy now.

"We definitely feed off of that," center Hjalte Froholdt said. "It's awesome to have a guy like that around. It's almost annoying – I go to try to help him up and he bursts out of there, and I'm like, whatever. It's awesome when he's all jacked up, he just has a big collision and he's the first man up and wild about a first down. He loves it and we love blocking for him."

The Cardinals need Conner strictly from the football aspect. They are still waiting for a second running back to emerge, and even coach Jonathan Gannon acknowledged Conner "is the workhorse. The run game's going to go through him."

Conner is the kind of back that seems to relish more carries and getting into a defense and imposing a physical will. That's part of the emotion too. But he's not looking for more carries. Just more victories.

"I just want to win," he said. "I'm not going to decline carries, obviously, but I want to play my position. I want to be the best football player I can be, whether that is running, blocking, receiving the ball, and give them what I've got to the other backs too."

-- With the Cowboys and Micah Parsons coming to town, protecting Joshua Dobbs will be crucial. It is notable the Cardinals did not allow a sack last week against the Giants, a nod to both the offensive line and Dobbs' awareness.

-- Led by Conner's big game, last week was the first time in 45 games the Cardinals ran for at least 150 yards and did not allow a sack.

-- There will be some sacks, though, you figure. The Cowboys are tied for the league-lead in sacks with 10 – with the Commanders, who the Cardinals also have played – and followed by the nine of, you guessed it, the Cardinals. Dennis Gardeck and Parsons have three each. Just sayin'.

-- There has been a lot of Kyler chatter this week, in large part because Kyler put some stuff out there on social media. Obviously, Murray is getting healthier. It certainly looks like there have been no setbacks. But since he can't practice until Oct. 2 at the earliest – and Gannon isn't saying that's when he would be lifted from PUP to do so – there is a lot of work left. There is a difference between being healthy and being football-ready against opponents in midseason form.

It stands to reason, since Murray hasn't played football since that fateful night against the Patriots, that he will need some practice time before he's going to play. How much time? I don't know, and I get the feeling Gannon nor Murray will be saying.

-- In Washington Week 1, tight end Geoff Swaim lost a perfectly executed 27-yard screen when guard Will Hernandez was flagged for being illegally downfield. In Week 2, tight end Trey McBride lost a nicely executed screen for 16 yards because of a block in the back by wide receiver Hollywood Brown.

"It's funny. It's been on a similar play," McBride said. "Geoff had it the week before, I had it last week, we told Zach (Ertz) it's his turn to get one called back now."

-- The Cardinals will again be wearing their red-on-red uniform combination.

-- With one reception Sunday, wide receiver Rondale Moore will become only the fourth Cardinal since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to have 100 receptions in his first 25 games with the team. The other three? Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. There has been a difference in yards, however. In his first 100 catches, Boldin had 1,371 yards (in just 16 games!). Fitzgerald was at 1,377 yards. Kirk was at 1,206 yards. Moore has 896 yards on his 99 receptions.

-- The front seven of the Cardinals, down both L.J. Collier and Carlos Watkins, will be tested. It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals go back to a more balanced rotation; defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter acknowledged playing so much last week after Watkins injury impacted his play. Obviously the Cardinals have to find a way to get off the field more often than that second half against the Giants.

-- No Trevon Diggs, but the Cowboys do have Parsons, whom rookie right tackle Paris Johnson Jr. has known since Johnson was in high school. "This is a matchup that I think we have both been talking about for a while," Johnson said, and it's a big ask for a rookie.

See you Sunday.

Conner Celebrates