Cardinals Prepare On East Coast For Sunday

The Cardinals were 2-6 on the road last year, including 1-3 in the Eastern Time Zone, so when the schedule was released and coach Ken Whisenhunt saw the consecutive games at Washington and the Jets, he started thinking about ways to cope with the travel.One way was to cut out one plane ride by staying on the East Coast between games.It was a logistical challenge, but Arizona worked things out.

This week, they have stayed in Vienna, Va., a Washington, D.C., suburb, and taken the bus to Catholic University each day for practice.

On Saturday, they'll board a train for Newark, N.J., and play the Jets the next day.

The Cardinals haven't made such a trip in many years. Whisenhunt has been a player and coach in the NFL for 20 years and he did it only once, as a player.

"I don't know how commonplace it is," he said. "I know this, this is one thing I have researched and I have looked at, is that teams that go from west to east, and what their records are in those games. And it's not very good.

"This was an opportunity to try something different, shake it up and maybe play a little better on the road."

The players have adapted, although some, such as quarterback Kurt Warner, aren't crazy about it. The father of seven, Warner said he would rather be able to tuck his kids in at night.

But if this helps the Cardinals win, Warner said he's for it. Other players have enjoyed the trip. Warner and a handful of teammates went to New York on Tuesday, the players' day off.

Other took advantage of tours the team arranged. Some went to the FBI's training headquarters at Quantico. Others visited historical sites. Some, like cornerback Rod Hood, stayed at the hotel, relaxed and studied video of the Jets.

"I feel good about it," Hood said of the trip. Traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast is really hard because you travel for four or five hours and you lose three hours. It's more than half a day (that you lose)."

SERIES HISTORY: 7th meeting. The Jets lead, 4-2. The Jets have won the last four, dating to 1978. The teams have only played twice in the last 20 years. The Jets won the last meeting in 2004, 13-3. The clubs have some ties, however. The Cardinals drafted Joe Namath but watched him sign with the Jets. And they traded with the Jets for receiver Rob Moore in 1995. Former Cardinal linebacker Calvin Pace signed a lucrative deal with the Jets last off-season.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Cardinals didn't make a big deal out of being 2-0, and they don't seem to be sweating much over their first loss of the season. "We ain't worried about it," said strong safety Adrian Wilson. "It's one game and we'll get back to practice and get ready for the Jets."

--The game wasn't so easy for quarterback Kurt Warner to get over. He can't forget his first interception of the year, a ball that was slightly underthrown to open receiver Steve Breaston. The ball bounced off a defender's helmet. Carlos Rogers made a diving catch and returned it to the Arizona 15, setting up a touchdown. "It was frustrating for me because I've really been trying to make good decisions. The insult to injury is what happens as a result of that. For it to happen when it did and to turn into seven points that gave them the lead, that was the most difficult part of it."

--The Cardinals have a handful of older veterans who are going to work to keep the young guys grounded. "Nobody said we're at the top," said fullback Terrelle Smith, one of those older guys. "All that hype about being 2-0, you can't listen to it. Keep your head down and your elbows up and keep going. It's only one game. It's not the end of the world. The bad part is we lost; the best part is that we can fix it."

--The Cardinals were 2-6 on the road last year and 1-3 in the Eastern Time Zone. With the loss to the Redskins, they still haven't proven they travel a great distance and beat a good team on the road.

"I'm not confident until we do it," Warner said. "I think that's the bottom line. I think we're growing in a lot of areas. I think we're getting better. But bottom line in this business, to be a playoff team you've got to go on the road against good football teams and win. And find a way, even when things don't go your direction and even when you don't play your best football."

BY THE NUMBERS: 23 -- Number of years since the team last went 3-1 in the first four games of the season. The Cardinals did it in 1985. They have never been better than 2-2 since moving to Arizona in 1988.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "But when you've been in the league for a long time it's kind of like a badge of courage to say, I'm still playing, I'm still being able to accomplish things, even at this stage." -- QB Kurt Warner on playing well at age 37.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Cardinals have made it through weeks of practices and three games almost unscathed by injuries. But they might have to look hard at tweaking some things in the lineup.

PLAYER NOTES

--RG Deuce Lutui is a road grader when it comes to run blocking but he struggles sometimes in his pass blocking. He gave up a sack and had a holding call last week. Elton Brown is still pressing him.

--OLB Chike Okeafor remains the starter on the strong side, but backup Clark Haggans might be playing better. Haggans certainly is more comfortable when dropping into coverage. Okeafor, a defensive end for most of his career, is still learning that skill.

--WR Steve Breaston, the No.3 wideout, has just four catches in three games. And the No. 4 receiver, Jerheme Urban, doesn't have any. They aren't going to catch many balls as long as Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin stay healthy but they need to be a bigger part of the offense.

--Coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't overly concerned about his team's failure to score touchdowns when in the red zone (6 of 13). The Cardinals were efficient in that area last year, and Whisenhunt thinks production will increase. The Cardinals have been hurt this year by penalties and a dropped pass.

--DE/OLB Bertrand Berry has had one sack in each game this season. That's the first time in his career that he's had sacks in three consecutive games.

GAME PLAN: Offensively, the Cardinals must make the Jets pay for blitzing. The Jets like to bring pressure from various angles, so the offensive line and running backs need to be aware. If they pick it up, Kurt Warner could have a big day. Defensively, the Cardinals need to start quicker. They let the Redskins drive for a touchdown on their opening possession. They also need to come up with turnovers when given the opportunity.

Cornerback Eric Green dropped a potential interception last week. The special teams must be more efficient. The return teams aren't producing much, and the special teams have committed six penalties in the past two weeks.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Jets OLB/DE Calvin Pace vs. Cardinals LT Mike Gandy -- Pace, a former Cardinal, used to face Gandy almost daily in practice. Pace is playing well for the Jets, but so is Gandy. A solid veteran, Gandy rarely makes mistakes and has been a pleasant surprise since joining the Cardinals in 2007.

Jets CB David Barrett vs. Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin: The Cardinals like to move Boldin around in the formation in order to get him matched up with nickel backs. Barrett, another former Cardinal, can still play, as evidenced by his interception return for a touchdown last week. But the Cardinals would take their chances with this matchup.

Cardinals DE/OLB Bertrand Berry vs. Jets OTs D'Brickashaw Ferguson (left) and Damien Woody (right): Berry usually will line up on the weakside of the formation. He's 33 and has been hurt the past three years, but he's shown that his pass rush skills haven't eroded. The Cardinals will need him to put pressure on Brett Favre.

INJURY IMPACT: DE/OLB Bertrand Berry (groin) suffered a strain last week and left the game briefly. He returned to play but missed practice Wednesday for more medical tests. The results are not yet available.

--WR Sean Morey (Achilles) suffered a strain in practice Wednesday, the severity of which isn't known.

--TE Jerame Tuman (hamstring) is expected to make his season debut, but he missed practice on Wednesday. He's third on the depth chart, but he's also the best blocker at the position. He could help the team's short-yardage offense.


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