Pope Looking Forward to Expanded Role

The Cardinals have won six games and five in Coach Dennis Green's two seasons. They move into a new stadium - a sold-out new stadium in a place that has ranked among the worst in the league in home attendance. The nucleus of players has been steadily upgraded during three off-seasons under Green. The Cardinals appear to have everything going for them.

In Green's estimation, the biggest thing is familiarity. A year ago, The Cardinals ranked in the league top 10 in offense and defense - Indianapolis was the only other team to crack the top 10 on both sides of the ball - despite the Cardinals having had a league-high 15 players on Injured Reserve by year's end.
"We're healthier right now but I think we just have a better understanding," Green said. "This is Kurt's second year, so he has had a whole season plus an off-season and our objective is to be one of the better offenses. We were one of the better passing offenses but that is not total offense."
Green was referring to quarterback Kurt Warner. Like Green, Warner said after the final team organized workout that he sees improvement, especially up front.
"I see the comfort level of the offensive line, the adjustments they're making, the moves they're making and the way they're working together," Warner said. "From a mental standpoint, I feel a lot more comfortable where we are now than where we were all last season.
"We have such a greater handle on the offense this year. When you're going out there and you're running plays, you're expecting everyone to be in the right place and make the right adjustments. Last year at this time you still were not sure."
Moving the ball up and down the field pads statistics, but the team scored in 3s - kicker Neil Rackers set a league record for field goals - because it could not punch the ball into the end zone. That should change, Warner believes, with an upgraded line and the signing of running back Edgerrin James.
"We all understand we have to be better running the ball," Warner said. "We can't be one-dimensional in the red zone. It's tough because teams play a zone and the holes are tough and it's just tough to work. So you have to able to run the ball. If a defense wants to put everyone back in zone coverage, you have to be able to run the ball."

--TE John Bronson (6-feet-2, 260 pounds), whose 2005 rookie season was thwarted by a knee injury in the opener, has made a recovery and is trying a new position -- fullback.
The team does not have a stud blocker at fullback, and tight end suddenly appears to be the domain of rookie third-round pick Leonard Pope.
"In college I was switching between positions I had played in high school (defensive end, tight end at Penn State) so I knew a little bit and it was not as hard," Bronson said. "I have to learn all of the different formations and learn to read the defenses more than what I would as a tight end so it is more difficult for me."
The team is keeping close watch on another young player at a new position. Undrafted rookie Micheal Spurlock, a quarterback at Mississippi, is getting a look at receiver and may also get a tryout as a return specialist in training camp.
--Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was in Phoenix, touring the new stadium that opens in suburban Glendale in August and visiting with Cardinals ownership and management. The new stadium is sold out for 2006. It is to be the site of the 2008 Super Bowl.
"The design is so bold, so striking and so in tune with the landscape out there," Tagliabue said. "I think that it is not only going to be a fun place but a wonderful place to play the Super Bowl."
The Cardinals are tweaking the concept of luxury suites and leasing what they market as "lofts" in the new building.
"It is such a nice thing that the excitement around the stadium and the upswing around the team is coming at the same time," Tagliabue said.
--The most excitement in on offense, where RB Edgerrin James and QB Matt Leinart have been added to a group that includes WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and QB Kurt Warner.
"We like the fact that we are strong at the receiving corps and we think with Edge, Marcel (Shipp) and J.J. (Arrington) we are strong at running back," coach Dennis Green said. "I think those are two really good signs. We also think we are strong on the offensive line. We've added to it and the guys we have brought back are going to help us offensively and I think we have some good players at the starting position."
--The Cardinals are promoting Steve Keim to head the college scouting department in a retooling of the operation.
Scout George Boone is retiring. Dave Razzano, who was with the Rams for 14 seasons, is Boone's replacement. He will work the western part of the country.
Lonnie Young is being promoted to supervise the west.
--Coach Dennis Green used the accident involving Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger to remind his players to make good decisions away from the game.
"You always want the players to understand that anything they do off the field -- whether it be skiing, water skiing, sky diving, motorcycling -- there is a certain amount of judgment that has to be used about whether or not a guy should do those things," Green said.

--Elton Brown, tossed in as a starter at right guard as a rookie last season, took some snaps at right tackle during team organized workouts. Coach Dennis Green said it is nothing more than a depth-building move during off-season.
--C Billy Conaty (not tendered June 1).
--G Adam Haayer (not tendered June 1).
--RB James Jackson (not tendered June 1).
--FB Harold Morrow (not tendered June 1).
--RB J.R. Redmond (not tendered June 1).
--WR/KR Reggie Swinton (not tendered June 1).
--DE R-Kal Truluck (not tendered June 1).
--RB Damien Anderson: potential UFA; $545,000/1 yr, 2006 cap: $460,000.
--FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--OT Jeremy Bridges: Not tendered as ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Tim Bulman: ERFA; $350,000/1 yr.
--CB Dyshod Carter: ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--S Aaron Francisco: ERFA; $350,000/1 yr.
--LB Gerald Hayes: RFA; terms unknown, had been tendered at $721,600.
--LB Isaac Keys: Potential ERFA; $425,000/1 yr.
--DT Kenny King: RFA; had been tendered at $721,600.
--OL Shawn Lynch: ERFA; $350,000/1 yr.
--DE Langston Moore: ERFA; terms unknown.
--PK Nick Novak: ERFA; $350,000/1 yr.
--DE Anton Palepoi: Potential UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Antonio Smith: ERFA; $350,000/1 yr.
--CB Robert Tate: Potential UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Kurt Warner: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--OG Reggie Wells: RFA; matched Bills offer $17.6M/5 yrs, $3M SB/$2M RB.
--S Jack Brewer: UFA Eagles; terms unknown.
--LB Mark Brown: Not tendered as ERFA By Jets; terms unknown.
--OG Milford Brown: UFA Texans; $12M/4 yrs, $3M SB; 2006 cap: $2.75M.
--DT Kendrick Clancy: UFA Giants; $8.1M/4 yrs, SB unknown.
--RB Edgerrin James: UFA Colts; $30M/4 yrs, $7M SB/$4.5 RB; 2006 cap: $9.5M.
--WR Troy Walters: UFA Colts; terms unknown.
--OT Ian Allen: UFA Chiefs; terms unknown.
--DT Russell Davis: UFA Seahawks; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Quentin Harris: UFA Giants; terms unknown.
--DT Ross Kolodziej: Not tendered as UFA/Vikings; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Josh McCown: UFA Lions; $6M/2 yrs, $2M SB.
--CB Raymond Walls: UFA Chargers; terms unknown.


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