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Warner Always Responds

Notebook: Fitzgerald should play Sunday; Gandy, Rackers out

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Quarterback Kurt Warner has played excellent football in games following Cardinals' losses this season, and will try and do the same Sunday in Detroit.
 
 
Maybe Kurt Warner should just be considered the ace of the staff.

Football is much different than baseball, and the quarterback isn't working every fifth day like a pitcher. But like a star hurler who is known for being able to stop a losing streak, Warner has responded in the same way this season.

In the games following the Cards' first four losses this season, Warner has been spectacular, completing 94 of 128 passes for 1,091 yards, 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions. That equates to a mind-boggling passing rating of 130.0 and, of course, the Cards have won each of the four follow-ups.

Chance No. 5 comes Sunday in Detroit, after the Cards lost to the 49ers last Monday.

"You don't want to lose two games in a row," Warner said. "It's not so much personally, 'Oh, I played bad,' but I think the biggest thing is you don't want to lose two in a row. So if you don't have a good performance, I think (bouncing back) is natural. Not that you focus more, but you are more conscious of going out and making good decisions.

"I don't feel like I do anything different. It's not like I am preparing more or preparing better. You just have a subconscious focus. There may be a little more attention to detail."

Each of the follow wins carried significance beyond victories. Warner completed an NFL-record 92.3 percent of his passes in Jacksonville. His 302 yards passing led the Cards to their first home win against Houston. He threw five TD passes in Chicago, and his three-touchdown performance against Minnesota was a stellar way to return from his concussion.

Another reason Warner has done so well may be his perspective as he has gotten older.

"I think it's easier for me now to deal with losses," Warner said. "Earlier in my career, every loss used to beat me up. Even every mistake. I might not have lost or didn't play bad but had two or three mistakes, they would keep me up at night and I'd continually go over them for two or three days. I don't let that happen anymore. I don't let one loss affect me like I did earlier in my career."

FITZGERALD SHOULD PLAY

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said he was "feeling good" on his sore knee and once again reiterated he planned to play Sunday in Detroit.

"I'm feeling better than yesterday and hopefully, by Sunday, I'll be feeling my best," Fitzgerald said Friday.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Fitzgerald improved every day and "that was good."

"We'll see before the game," Whisenhunt said of Fitzgerald's status, "but we are hopeful."

Two players definitely not playing are left tackle Mike Gandy (pelvis) and kicker Neil Rackers (right groin). Gandy won't make the trip, Whisenhunt said, and will be sent to the doctors for more tests. Rackers will be replaced by Mike Nugent, who Whisenhunt said was impressive enough in practice that "it's shocking to me he's not with a team."

Nugent's kickoffs have looked good, the coach added, but "I'm sure they doctored those balls up. We'll see with a 'K' ball on Sunday."

Linebacker Gerald Hayes, limited all week, returned to full practice Friday.

LION DOWN

The Cardinals will face a Detroit team in bad shape. Starting quarterback Matt Stafford and starting running back Kevin Smith are each out with injuries, and star receiver Calvin Johnson has missed some practice time this week with a bad knee. The Lions already weren't very good, and have struggled just to achieve two wins.

"There are definitely some areas we are lacking in because we're 2-and-whatever-we-are," Johnson said.

Said coach Jim Schwartz, "The only thing that needs to be said is that we are 2-11. We can worry about progress in the offseason. Our goal every week is to win on Sunday. I think if our goal was progress then we're looking at the wrong thing during the season."

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