Kliff Kingsbury has some fond memories of New Orleans, even if he spent just a season with the Saints in 2004 as a practice-squad quarterback.
He lasted into the preseason of 2005, playing in the preseason before Hurricane Katrina hit in late August. Kingsbury said he almost decided to stick it out before his mother talked him into driving back to his home state of Texas – a drive that normally took eight hours that instead took 16 because of everyone trying to get away. Kingsbury was cut by the Saints while he was in Texas, and said he never did go back.
"It was a great time," Kingsbury said with a smile Friday, before the Cardinals head out to play there this weekend. "Love the city of New Orleans. Got to be around Joe Horn, Donte Stallworth, (coach) Jim Haslett, Mike McCarthy was the OC. Great football personalities. More than anything, (I remember) the culture of the city and the passion of the fans."
Larry Fitzgerald's own New Orleans memories aren't great. What stands out to him is the playoff blowout loss after the Cards' 2009 division-winning season.
"They ended my boy Kurt (Warner)'s career, he retired after that game, in large (part) from being targeted," Fitzgerald said of the last game of the Hall of Famer's career. "Not too many great memories. Tim Hightower had the 80-yard run (to start the game) and I was real optimistic, and then it got real bad from there."
Fitz didn't even mention the bad 2013 loss in New Orleans when safety Rashad Johnson lost part of a finger trying to make a tackle. That's the last time the Cards have visited during the regular season. It'd be pretty cool for them to give themselves a better memory of a visit.
-- Running back David Johnson didn’t practice all week. The Cardinals signed Alfred Morris and Zach Zenner for a reason – D.J. Foster is definitely out – but Kingsbury said there is still a chance Johnson's ankle will be healthy enough Sunday for him to be active. (And no, I have no idea how much Johnson would play if he did play, because frankly, I don't think the Cardinals know for sure.)
-- It's not unimportant to note that the Cards have a short week, with the 49ers visiting on Halloween, which is the following Thursday. Kingsbury acknowledged earlier this week that in a perfect world, Johnson would not play Sunday and have that much more time to rehab for the 49ers. That seems like a tell, although game-day decisions are usually that.
-- Rare is the situation when a player sits out practice all week and then plays, although linebacker Terrell Suggs just did it against the Falcons earlier this season while battling a back issue. In 2008, I remember safety Adrian Wilson doing it against the Bills – Dub played just six snaps, but one of them was a monster hit on Bills quarterback Trent Edwards, knocking Edwards out of the game.
-- I feel a little more optimistic about Christian Kirk getting back on the field. (Kirk was non-committal, although Fitzgerald seemed to sway toward Kirk being able to play.) Having Kirk out there would be a boon to the offense, especially if Johnson can't go.
-- The Cardinals also very much need linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf) to go.
-- Technically, Drew Brees is questionable to play quarterback for the Saints. It could be Brees, it could be Teddy Bridgewater. Saints coach Sean Payton, not surprisingly, is trying to keep everyone guessing (although I'm sure the decision one way or the other has been made – it's not like Brees is going to get appreciably better between now and Sunday.) Cornerback Patrick Peterson, talking about wide receiver Michael Thomas, casually said "Teddy" throwing the passes. So I asked why he thought it would be Bridgewater and not Brees.
"With those reports we have to be preparing for Drew and have to think he's going to play," Peterson said. "But my gut feeling, what I think, is that Drew sits this one out, get a bye week and come back in three weeks. My thought process is, with us being able to rush the passer the way we are and leading the league in forced fumbles on quarterbacks, I think that can raise some red flags. (But) if they put him out there, we have to just be ready to go out and hunt No. 9."
-- Interesting on the pass rush – the Cardinals are coming off a game in which they sacked Giants QB Daniel Jones eight times. And Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said it was a great effort by the defense. But he also said, for instance, that Chandler Jones (he of four sacks) saw a bunch of one-on-one blocking attempts he'd normally not see, and almost certainly not from Payton's schemes.
"We hadn't gotten that from teams – it had been seven-, eight-man protections, so (Jones) is getting chipped, fronts slid to him all the time," Joseph said. "This (past) week for some reason he got some one-on-ones and scheme-things that allowed him to get one-on-ones and he won. That won't be every week."
-- Peterson enjoyed his strip-sack, and yes, he very much knew it was the fourth sack of his career. "I want to continue stacking them up so I get in that 20-20 club with Dub," Peterson said, referring to former teammate Wilson. "Twenty sacks, 20 picks, that'd be a hell of a group to be part of. I know my stats, baby!"
Love the enthusiasm, P2, but good luck with that.
-- There were a few people that asked last week what was up with rookie safety Deionte Thompson, who wore white socks for the game in New York when everyone else wore red. Thompson had a simple explanation – that's been his thing for basically as long has he's played. Long white socks, pulled up, regardless of the situation. So I'm guessing we'll see that contrast again.
-- One of Drew Brees' former centers will be on the Cardinals' sideline today … in assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers. Rodgers was a senior anchoring the line at Westlake High School in Austin in 1995 when Brees, a junior, took over as varsity QB. Brees had replaced the graduated Jay Rodgers – Jeff's older brother – only after a knee injury derailed the QB career of Jonny Rodgers – Jeff's younger brother. (Rodgers' father was an assistant coach at the University of Texas at the time.)
-- Kingsbury might've gone for it on fourth down a couple of times more this season if he had a chance to do it again, but as it is, the Cardinals have been proficient when they have gone for it. So far, the Cardinals are the only team in the league perfect on its fourth-down tries, converting 5-of-5.
See you in the Big Easy.