Will the Time Zone Be An Issue On Sunday?

Rested and fairly healthy, the Cardinals will try to do something this weekend that they have rarely accomplished -- winning a road game in the Eastern time zone. They were 1-3 in the east last year and are 0-2 this year, with consecutive losses at Washington and the New York Jets.

The Cardinals tried staying in the East between those two games, but the experiment failed miserably when the Jets scored 34 points in the second quarter.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, however, thinks the 10-day trip earlier this year paid some dividends. The Cardinals fought back against the Jets, losing 56-35, and the experience made his team tougher, Whisenhunt said.

We'll find out this Sunday if he's right. At 5-2, Carolina will provide a stiff test, and the Cardinals know it. The only team the Cardinals have beaten in the east the past two years was the lowly Bengals.

Anytime they've played someone competent, the Cardinals have returned home losers.

The Cardinals have a two-game lead in the NFC West and have proven to be tough at home, going 9-2 there in Whisenhunt's two seasons.

But Whisenhunt knows that his team must get a few breakthroughs on the road in order to be taken seriously as a contender in the NFC.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--QB Kurt Warner needed the bye week to recover from bumps and bruises, especially those on his hands. He had a swollen right index finger, and his left hand was bruised. Warner was better Monday and threw the ball well.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald hasn't slacked off after signing a four-year, $40 million deal in the offseason. In fact, he's improved. The team is using him on more routes across the middle, and Fitzgerald is using his size to break tackles and gain more yards after the catch.

--WR Anquan Boldin hopes to play this week after undergoing surgery on Oct. 2 to repair two facial fractures suffered in a hit in the Jets game. Boldin's face is still swollen, but he can wear a helmet without a problem. His surgeon is going to make sure the fractures, which required eight plates to repair, are healing properly before clearing him.

--WR Steve Breaston, the No. 3 wideout on the club, has done a nice job of filling in for Anquan Boldin. Breaston caught 15 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in the two games Boldin has missed.

--RB Edgerrin James remains consistently productive. He's not going to break many long runs, but he doesn't make many mistakes, either. But James had just nine carries against the Cowboys and could be seeing a reduction in snaps.

--RB Tim Hightower has five rushing touchdowns, more than any Cardinals rookie since 1993, when Ronald Moore had nine. Hightower is being used more on first and second downs than he was earlier in the season.

--TE Leonard Pope is playing well despite a sore foot/ankle. Pope hasn't been a focal part of the passing game but has improved his blocking. Pope isn't running as well as he did last year, but he's a tough guy who is playing hurt.

--TE Ben Patrick is struggling with a knee injury and could miss a second consecutive game.

--DE/OLB Travis LaBoy likely will miss some practice time with a groin injury suffered against Dallas. LaBoy's status will be in question all week.

--DE/OLB Bertrand Berry has four sacks this year, one in each game he's played. He missed two games with a groin injury.


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