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With Balance, Warner Seeks Balance

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Quarterback Kurt Warner goes to make a handoff during the Cardinals' win in San Francisco Sunday at Candlestick Park.

A few times after Sunday's victory in San Francisco, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner said it had taken him some time to get into a rhythm.

It could have been Warner's lack of playing time in the preseason. But, Warner acknowledged, it also could have been because the Cardinals made a concerted effort to be more of a balanced attack rather than the pass-first offense Warner has directed most of his career.

"It's hard to say," Warner said. "We really haven't been (balanced) like that in a while. That may have been it.

"It's tough when you're running the ball well and you have to throw it in throwing situations only. It's different for me. I know I felt a lot better in the second half."

Last season, the Cardinals ran a pass play 63 percent of the time (including sacks and scrambles).  Sunday, the Cardinals ran 37 pass plays (including three sacks and four scrambles) and 35 running plays.

"One of the things we really didn't do during the game was attack down the field, which is something I always feel good doing," Warner said. "It's hard to say what it was, but if I have to struggle through it because we are running the ball, I'll be able to handle that a little bit better than if I am struggling because I haven't played very much."

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the first game of the year and the windy conditions were probable factors. But, added Whisenhunt, "Kurt has done an outstanding job of doing the things we have asked him to do."

"I am comfortable with where Kurt is with our offense," Whisenhunt said. "I think the entire offense is comfortable winning the game the way we won last week. That said, we will do whatever it takes to win. If that means we have to throw 50 times this week, if that is our best plan of attack, that's what we will do."

HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE

The Cardinals open their home schedule against Miami Sunday, after going 6-2 at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2007 (and coming within a missed Neil Rackers field goal against the 49ers to being 7-1).

"When you have a crowd like our crowd, that makes the noise it does, I was impressed with that," Whisenhunt said. "First of all, it energizes our football team and second, it makes it very difficult for our opponents to play. We saw a number of (opponents') false starts last year and I think that was directly attributable to our crowd."

Warner said it was difficult to put home-field advantage into words.

"There is something about momentum in this business," Warner said. "I know everybody gets paid and everybody is talented, but there is something to it. I don't think we can overstate how important that building was to us last year and the fan support. Anytime you can have a distinct advantage, no matter how small, it bodes well for you."

WATSON, BRANCH STILL LIMITED

Defensive tackles Gabe Watson (knee) and Alan Branch (ankle) took part in parts of practice, but both players remain limited. Whisenhunt said both have to be reevaluated Thursday, and praised rookie Kenny Iwebema – who backed up Bryan Robinson at nose tackle – for his play Sunday

Tight end Jereme Tuman (hamstring) sat out. Whisenhunt said the soonest Tuman would try to practice would be Friday.

The Dolphins' initial injury report of the week did not have any player listed.


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 9/10/08.

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