A lot of playing time in the preseason finale for the Cardinals' starters?
Well, said coach Ken Whisenhunt Monday, "it depends on whether my anger subsides by Thursday."
The Cards returned to the practice field in less than a good mood thanks to their first half showing against the Packers Friday night. Whisenhunt said his team was embarrassed "and that was a good sign."
He was also preaching a bit of caution at the same time. The performance wasn't good, and the Cards must get better, he said. But he also said the Cards must be evaluated on the preseason as a whole and not on just one half of one preseason game.
"Am I angry with what happened (against Green Bay)? Absolutely," Whisenhunt said. "I am upset about it, I don't accept the way we played and I want to say it will never happen again and that's our goal, but you can't lose sight about a lot of the good things we've done."
Quarterback Kurt Warner talked about rising expectations for the Cardinals and his irritation – rather than plain frustration – with some of the team's troubles. It seemed to him like his teammates were in the same place.
"I think you could feel a lot more people on edge today than in the past, or at least in the last couple of weeks," Warner said. "I think that's a good sign.
"Time will tell if guys stay committed and it's not just a reaction to what Coach said or from the game."
Whisenhunt said he has to see how the week unfolds before he will make those playing time decisions for a final preseason game that usually sees little of action from the starters. Even Warner said he wasn't necessarily expecting to play.
Whisenhunt left his starting defense out for the first three quarters against the Packers, and he acknowledged he pondered leaving them out for the entire game he was so upset with the unit.
"We can't just step on the football field and think we're going to be good," Warner said. "We're seeing some of the same mistakes on the practice field too, a lack of discipline. I think there are a lot of guys irritated with it. It's fixable, but my sense of urgency is heightened, and I hope everybody else's is too."
DOUCET'S FRACTURED RIBS AND LEINART SORENESS
Wide receiver Early Doucet and quarterback Matt Leinart were among the players sitting out Monday. Leinart has a sore throwing shoulder – Whisenhunt said he wasn't sure when it happened – while Doucet fractured some ribs in the second quarter against the Packers.
Doucet continued to play, earning Whisenhunt's praise, although the second-year wideout must sit not because of pain but because further hits could endanger Doucet's lungs.
"He'll have to take some time off, but I was impressed with Early," Whisenhunt said. "He is a tough kid and a young player who we have high hopes for."
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (hamstring) is "getting better," Whisenhunt said, while quarterback Brian St. Pierre (back) is also being careful.
Wide receiver Steve Breaston finally returned to practice Monday after being out since the Pittsburgh game with a bruised knee and sprained posterior cruciate ligament. There is a chance Breaston could play in the Denver game, although "I don't want to be stupid."
"I want to get back out there, but we will see how my leg goes," Breaston said.
Breaston said he'd like to get another taste of game action before the regular season. And he said if he does play, he'd like to return a punt or two in addition to some offense.
"I've been playing both roles, and when you get on the field, you want to do all the things you did before you got hurt," Breaston said, brushing aside the idea of playing it too safe. "You could be on the sideline and get hurt."
Linebacker Ali Highsmith (ankle) also returned to practice.
FIRST CUTS MADE
The Cardinals trimmed their roster to 75, a number they had to reach by Tuesday. The five moves included releasing safety Keith Lewis and tackle Brandon Pearce, placing second-round pick Cody Brown (wrist) on injured reserve – ending his season – and waiving/injured linebacker Pago Togafau and kick returner Michael Ray Garvin.
The Cardinals must shave down the roster to 53 players by Saturday. Whisenhunt is expected to make those cuts Friday, after the Cards close out the preseason Thursday night in Denver.