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    Mar 2009
    Lonley Planet


    Default Key Cards nursing injuries as playoffs begin

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    Three players who fill significant roles for the Arizona Cardinals are nursing injuries heading into the postseason.

    Wide receiver Anquan Boldin has a sprained left ankle, defensive end Calais Campbell a broken left thumb and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a bruised left kneecap.

    Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Boldin was sore and undergoing an MRI on Monday.

    Whisenhunt seemed optimistic Campbell and Rodgers-Cromartie would be ready when Arizona hosts Green Bay in a wild-card game Sunday.

    "I'm always optimistic that we're going to have these guys because this is a playoff game and guys want to play," Whisenhunt said. "They understand that.

    "The sense of urgency is definitely there. That's why I feel like you've got a chance of getting these guys back.'

    He was more vague about Boldin's status.

    "We'll just have to see how he progresses as the week goes," Whisenhunt said.

    All three were hurt in Sunday's 33-7 regular-season finale against the Packers.

    Whisenhunt pulled most of his starters early to avoid injuries, but some stayed in.

    Boldin limped off the field in the third quarter and Campbell was injured in the fourth. Rodgers-Cromartie went down on the third play of the game when he landed on the cleat of the Packers' Jermichael Finley.

    Boldin, who surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the fifth time in his career during the game, brushed off the injury afterward, saying he expected to be ready for the Packers game. He said, with backup quarterback Matt Leinart struggling, the coaches asked him to go one more series before he was hurt.

    "I'm not one to shy away from competition," Boldin said. "I don't regret anything about today as far as going in and competing, even at that point."

    Whisenhunt said Monday the only thing he would have done differently about the game was "I would have taken Q out one play earlier than I did."

    Campbell is expected to play with a cast, just as Rodgers-Cromartie did with a broken finger and guard Reggie Wells with a broken thumb earlier this season.

    Whisenhunt was asked how much of a detriment a cast would be to a defensive lineman.

    "I don't know. I mean, it will help with his club move, that's for sure," the coach joked, adding. "I think that it obviously will affect him at some level. Maybe it will help Calais wrap up a little bit better because we know he's had a few sacks this year that have slipped through his hands."

    Rodgers-Cromartie, the team leader in interceptions with six, made the Pro Bowl in his second NFL season and figures prominently in Arizona's plans to defend against Aaron Rodgers' prolific passing game. The six-foot-eight Campbell, also in his second pro season, is a big part of Arizona's pass rush.

    "You want to have your best players," Whisenhunt said. "I think that when you are playing against a team that is operating well offensively like Green Bay is, it's important that you have those players."

    Still, he said, "I think we've learned that if you're going to have a chance to be successful in this league you're going to have to have guys step up and play when other guys can't go."

    Boldin injured his hamstring last year on a 71-yard touchdown reception in Arizona's wild-card victory over Atlanta and missed the second-round win at Carolina.

    Whisenhunt gave his players Monday and Tuesday off. They will return to practice Wednesday.

    The coach said the team already has some of the game plan in place because they were prepared to use it if the Cardinals had a chance for a No. 2 seed. That chance ended well before kickoff when it was clear that Minnesota would rout the New York Giants.

    Instead, Whisenhunt stuck with a "vanilla" approach that didn't tip his hand for next weekend.

    "It's hard, it's hard to sit there for the game and do that," Whisenhunt said. "There's always some things you would like to pull out and use, but then again you certainly want to save them. I don't want to make excuses.

    "We obviously need to play better than we did yesterday. I think a lot of it was about mistakes that we made.

    "We stuck with our plan, what we intended to do. That's difficult, especially when the score got the way it did. Hopefully, that will help us this week. Ultimately, that's what the most important thing is."



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