The Cardinals ran the ball well last week but had to abandon that tactic after falling behind by 24 points in the first half. They need to avoid their penchant for committing turnovers early, yet they need to make a big play to give themselves some confidence.
On defense, the Cardinals must put some pressure on QB Drew Brees. Teams are concentrating on stopping DL Darnell Dockett, and some other guys need to pick up the slack. The Cardinals might want to use Karlos Dansby on the blitz more than usual.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--P Mitch Berger hasn't been much of an improvement over the guy he replaced, Mike Barr. Barr had a net average of 31.7 when he was cut. Berger has a net average of 32.1 in two games and let a ball slip through his hands for a safety.
--OT Levi Brown struggled greatly against Seattle DE Patrick Kerney, but coaches think that Brown was a victim of circumstances. The Cardinals trailed 24-0 after four possessions and had to throw. Kerney was able to tee off against Brown, who was beaten almost every way imaginable.
--The return of S Aaron Francisco from injury is probably too late to help a struggling secondary. Francisco has missed five of the past six games with ankle and calf injuries. Starter Terrence Holt has struggled, and Francisco nearly beat him out for the job in camp. But Francisco has missed too much time to be much of a factor in the final three weeks.
--TE Ben Patrick will see more playing time now that starter Leonard Pope is out for the season with a dislocated ankle and fractured leg. Patrick, a seventh-round pick, has played well, but there are still some rough edges to smooth.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--QB Kurt Warner is playing with a sore left elbow, bruised ribs and a sore left knee. He participated in all of Wednesday's workout, however.
--ILB Karlos Dansby was limited in Wednesday's practice because of bruised ribs, but he should be able to play Sunday in New Orleans.
--FS Terrence Holt has been a disappointment this year, failing to make several key plays. He was faked out by 49ers running back for a touchdown run. He missed possible interceptions on touchdown passes against Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
--RB Edgerrin James needs 32 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year. No Cardinal has done that since Ottis Anderson in 1983-84.
--TE Troy Bienemann should get more playing time, given the season-ending injury to starter Leonard Pope. Bienemann plays in the no-huddle scheme.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
DT Hollis Thomas vs. Cardinals interior linemen -- Thomas is the Saints' most disruptive lineman, and he'll be a challenge for C Al Johnson and OGs Deuce Lutui and Reggie Wells.
WR Marques Colston vs. Cardinals CB Antrel Rolle -- Rolle is playing much better this year than last year. Colston is the kind of receiver who gives the Cardinals trouble. He's big and physical and could cause Rolle to commit some penalties while trying to defend him.
--WR Larry Fitzgerald is limited in practice this week because of a sore groin. He should be able to play Sunday.
--WR Anquan Boldin is limited in practice this week because of a dislocated toe on his left foot. His status probably won't be known until shortly before game time Sunday.
--OLB Karlos Dansby has bruised ribs, but he should be able to play Sunday.
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