Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin comes off the field after scoring a touchdown in Carolina earlier this season.
The Cardinals and coach Ken Whisenhunt are hopeful Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin will be able to play in Saturday's playoff game in Carolina, but Whisenhunt made clear Monday Boldin's status would not affect the team's game-planning.
Boldin strained his hamstring during his 71-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the Wild Card victory over Atlanta.
Whisenhunt said receiver Steve Breaston, Early Doucet and Jerheme Urban have done a "great job" filling in.
"We have been pretty successful with those guys when Anquan didn't play," Whisenhunt said. "We're certainly expecting to go ahead with the gameplan like we normally would.
"Early has shown that he can do some of those things, and Jerheme has as well –
Jerheme threw a pass for us in the Washington game. I believe Anquan is a special player and obviously there are things he can do that are greatly beneficial to us. But I think we have some pretty good other players too."
Doucet, similar in body type to Boldin if not as versatile, would have been the natural replacement for Boldin against Atlanta, but Doucet was inactive. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said after the game Boldin's absence tends to limit what the Cards can do.
But given a week with the knowledge Boldin's status is up in the air, the Cardinals will be able to build in some protection to their plan. Whisenhunt said Boldin's hamstring injury wasn't a complete surprise because Boldin had done little conditioning for a couple of weeks while rehabbing a shoulder injury.
Boldin will be monitored during the week. The hamstring is not torn, Whisenhunt said, adding he was "hopeful" Boldin will play. "When you are dealing with hamstrings, you just never know," Whisenhunt added.
Boldin did not appear in the locker room during media availability Monday.
Whisenhunt also said defensive end Travis LaBoy, who hasn't played since the Minnesota game Dec. 14, is supposed to practice Tuesday.
The topic comes up every time the Cardinals head to play East, and so it was only natural that with a return trip to Carolina for the Divisional round Whisenhunt was asked if he felt the Cards were more prepared.
"If it is going to get better this would be a great week for it," Whisenhunt said with a smile. "I wish I could tell you I had tangible evidence.
"Maybe we're due. I think we are a little more mentally tougher in knowing how we have to prepare. Anytime you throw the playoff equation into it, that helps. We've taken enough trips East that we certainly shouldn't be surprised about how we will be affected."
The Cardinals are 0-5 out East this season. They played close games in Carolina and Washington and were blown out in New York (against the Jets), Philadelphia and New England.
The players tried to have some fun with the repetitive storyline.
"It's a set-up man," linebacker Karlos Dansby said, smiling. "We haven't won a game on the East coast. It's a set-up. We're due."
The Cardinals have decided to leave for Carolina Friday morning as opposed to Thursday afternoon. With an 8:15 p.m. kickoff in Charlotte, Whisenhunt said he didn't want his players sitting around a hotel for essentially two full days. …
Jets owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum are flying to Arizona to interview Cardinals assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm Thursday for their head coaching job. Whisenhunt said having teams interested in assistants shouldn't affect the Cards.
"I am flattered any other team would have interest in our coaches," Whisenhunt said. "I think it speaks to the quality of our coaching staff and what (president) Michael Bidwill has allowed me to do in hiring some good coaches. I don't think any of our coaches will lose focus of what is going on, and that's trying to beat the Carolina Panthers."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 1/5/09. Updated 1/5/09.