Aerial Attack Loses Its Wings

The health of the Cardinals passing attack is in serious question after yet another key receiver went down with injury.

Tight end Leonard Pope is out for the year after suffering a dislocated right ankle and possible fracture during Sunday's game in Seattle. The team already was playing without receiver Anquan Boldin, who has a dislocated toe, and receiver Larry Fitzgerald was limited with a strained left groin.

In addition, Kurt Warner continues to play through a torn left elbow ligament and bruised ribs, and he came perilously close to suffering a serious knee injury when he got hit from behind Sunday.

Rookie Ben Patrick and Troy Bienemann, a first-year player, will team up to replace Pope, the starter. Their use will depend upon the game plan that week. Bienemann, for instance, plays in the team's no-huddle offense.

At 6-7, the Cardinals need to win their final three games to have shot at the playoffs and their first winning record since 1998. To do it, they need a healthy passing game.

Boldin might play this week if he can find a shoe insert that provides the foot with some stability. There's a danger, however, that the toe could dislocate again, and he might need surgery if that happens.

Fitzgerald has trouble pushing off on his left foot, which makes it difficult at times for him to beat press coverage or to outjump cornerbacks for the ball, one of his strengths.

Warner's knee injury apparently isn't serious. He heard a pop when he went down but seemed to be walking fine after the game and said the knee felt normal.


--RT Levi Brown struggled against Seattle DE Patrick Kerney on Sunday. Kerney had three sacks and hit the quarterback five other times.

"He got me a couple of times," Brown said. "It happened. I'll learn from it and get better as the season goes on."

--The Cardinals fell behind, 24-0, and had to abandon the running game.

"Obviously, it's difficult when you're down three scores ... and they can pin their ears back," coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

--DE/LB Darryl Blackstock and DE Darnell Dockett got in a heated exchange in the locker room after the game. Coach Ken Whisenhunt happened to be conducting his postgame radio interview at the time, and it was interrupted after just a question or two. The two players downplayed the incident, and Whisenhunt said the issue had been addressed and that he didn't expect additional problems.

--All three of the Cardinals' onside kicks this year have been successful. K Neil Rackers recovered his own kick on Sunday. He dribbled the kick in front of him, accompanied the ball on its 10-yard journey and then slid to recover. That style of kick worked twice for Rackers in college at Illinois but failed in his only other attempt in the NFL, back when he was with Cincinnati.

"We studied it all week and thought it might be available," Rackers said. "When they were in a six-man front, the guy dropped out of there pretty quick, so we thought we would test and see if I was an athlete for once."


--WR Anquan Boldin likely will be questionable again this week because of a sore toe. There is a danger the joint could become dislocated again, but Boldin is probably going to have to test it to find out how stable the toe is.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald is less than 100 percent because of a strained left groin. Fitzgerald played last week despite the injury and probably will try to gut it out the rest of the season.

--TE Leonard Pope is out for the rest of the season with a dislocated right ankle and possible fracture. Pope suffered the injury after a short reception in the third quarter. Troy Bienemann and Ben Patrick will replace him.

--TE Tim Euhus likely will be re-signed this week for depth. Euhus was released two weeks ago because the team needed help at other positions due to injuries.

--LB Karlos Dansby had 10 tackles and a forced fumbled, but he dropped an interception that he might have been able to return for a touchdown.

--P Mitch Berger has not exactly solidified the position since taking over two weeks ago from Mike Barr. Berger let a snap go through his hands in Seattle, resulting in a safety for the Seahawks.

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