Give And Take For Cardinals & Warner

Quarterback Kurt Warner has resurrected his career directing coach Ken Whisenhunt's offensive system, leading to the impression that the two have fit together like, well, Warner's hand in the gloves he wears.But it's not true.There is a continuing give and take between Warner and the offensive coaches, most notably Whisenhunt and coordinator Todd Haley.

Ken Whisenhunt jokes that Warner would like to throw it 60 times a game.

Not so, said Warner, who would prefer "30 to 35."

Warner came to prominence with the Rams offense of nearly a decade ago. It was a wide-open attack that called for him to fling balls to all points of the field, even when logic dictated otherwise.

That's the style in which Warner thinks he performs the best. While hardly stodgy, Whisenhunt prefers a more conservative approach. His roots are in the Steelers days under Bill Cowher, where a powerful run game was the centerpiece of the offense.

So Warner and Whisenhunt are constantly in negotiations. Warner wants to throw more?

Whisenhunt has been willing to do that as long as Warner keeps the turnovers to a minimum.

In the first game of the season, coaches came to Warner at halftime and told him he needed to make more plays. "I said, 'Then you need to give me the opportunity to make some plays,'" Warner said. So the coaches opened up the offense in the second half and Warner came through.

Warner has started 13 games now for Whisenhunt, so he knows this offense now and where he fits. But he's not above asking for some alterations occasionally.

SERIES HISTORY: 113th meeting. The Redskins lead, 69-42-1. They have won the last six meetings, dating to the 2000 season, and eight of the last nine. The Cardinals would like to avenge a 21-19 loss at Washington last year. They fell behind, 14-0, early thanks to two Kurt Warner interceptions and a wild comeback fell short due to a blocked extra point and a failed two-point conversion.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Cardinals are going to remain in the Washington area after Sunday's game to prepare for the Jets. They will take a train from Washington to Newark on Sunday. It's part of coach Ken Whisenhunt's efforts to improve the team's performance on the road. Last year, the club went 2-6 away from home, including 1-3 in the Eastern Time Zone. "Let's face it, we sucked," he said about the team's performance in the East.

--WR Anquan Boldin swears he's not going to be a distraction to the Cardinals. At least in a negative way. If Boldin's unhappiness over his contract is having an impact on the club, it's all positive. He caught eight passes in the opener and had six catches for 140 yards, including three TDs, in the second game. "I told you I wouldn't be a distraction so you tell me," he said to a reporter, who asked about the contract situation. "Does it seem like I'm a distraction? No? Well, there you have it."

--Boldin scored on his long pass of the day, a 79-yarder. The team's other Pro Bowl receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, was caught from behind on a 75-yard reception. "I'm faster," Boldin teased.

--After last Sunday's game, Warner was asked about throwing a ball slightly behind Boldin in the end zone. He took issue with the idea that the ball didn't go exactly where he wanted it. "It was really exactly where I wanted it," he said. He then gave a long explanation that he had to throw to Boldin's back shoulder because a safety was cutting in front of the receiver.

--The Cardinals are making a big deal out of being 2-0. As defensive end Darnell Dockett noted, the teams the Cardinals beat won a total of six games last year. "Look, football is a game of 'forget,'" said linebacker Chike Okeafor. "You forget about what you did last week or yesterday and you move on."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Cardinals have won their games using varying styles. In the opener, they relied on the run, and the defense blitzed 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan.

In the second game, the Cardinals beat the Dolphins through the air and the defense played a basic package, using a lot of soft zone coverages.

That versatility should serve them well the rest of the season. Defensively, few coordinators change game plans so drastically week to week as Clancy Pendergast. He has a lot of options with a roster full of versatile players.

The same is true on offense. Whisenhunt likes to use varied formations and personnel groups. This season, the Cardinals have used a hurry-up at times and the no huddle a tiny bit.

PLAYER NOTES

--NT Gabe Watson might make his season debut this week. He hasn't played because of a fractured kneecap suffered last summer. Watson has been limited in practice for the past two weeks but will try to increase his workload this week. When healthy, he's the club's best nose tackle.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald made several impressive runs after receptions last week in Miami. That's an element of his game that coaches have stressed could improve. Fitzgerald is never going to physically take on safeties, but coaches have asked him to run straight up the field more instead of heading to the sidelines.

--RB Edgerrin James now has 15,022 yards from scrimmage and become the 14th player in history to surpass the 15,000 yard mark. James jersey and the football he carried were sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week.

--OLB Bertrand Berry has two sacks in two games while playing a part-time role. Berry adds a dimension the team missed last year when he was out with a torn triceps.

--RB Tim Hightower is the first rookie in team history to rush for two touchdowns in his first two games. Hightower is the team's short yardage and third-down back. He also fumbled near the end zone but the Cardinals recovered.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Cardinals RT Levi Brown vs. Redskins DLE Jason Taylor -- Brown struggled last year against elite pass rushers. While Taylor might not be at the level he was a year or two ago, this is a dangerous matchup for the Cardinals. Brown has to be able to hold up against Taylor.

Cardinals DLE Darnell Dockett vs. Redskins RT Stephon Heyer: Dockett's quickness and power make him difficult for tackles to handle. If they can't get their hands on him, they're in trouble. Heyer is in his second year after making the team as an undrafted rookie. Heyer will also be matched up against Outside linebackers Chike Okeafor and Clark Haggans in pass rush situations. Those are two veterans with a variety of moves.

Cardinals WRs Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald vs. Redskins CBs Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers: Both receivers played well against the Redskins last year, even though Boldin was suffering from a hip injury. The receivers don't have a lot of speed but they're big, physical and can be tough to bring down.

INJURY IMPACT: TE Jerame Tuman is hopeful of playing after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury. He's No. 3 on the depth chart but he's the best blocker at the position the club has.

--NT Gabe Watson should be able to play a few snaps this week. He hasn't played this year after suffering a fractured kneecap over the summer.

--CB Eric Green (calf), OT Levi Brown (knee) and CB Rod Hood (neck) all suffered injuries last week and returned to the game. The Cardinals expect all three to start in Washington.

--OLB Travis LaBoy (ankle) is taking it easy in practice but should play. That's also the case with Brown and receiver Steve Breaston (hamstring).


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