Panthers Hope to Pounce On Cardinals

The Cardinals bring the league's second-rated passing game to Carolina while coming off a bye and possibly getting WR Anquan Boldin back in the lineup. The Panthers have only 11 sacks on the season, but are still ranked second against the pass, allowing just 168.7 yards per game.

Arizona Cardinals (4-2) at Carolina Panthers (5-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 10/26/08

SURFACE: Grass

TV: FOX (Matt Vasgersian, Brian Baldinger, Laura Okmin)

SERIES: Carolina has won the last four meetings, including a 25-10 win last year at the University of Phoenix Stadium. That was the game were Vinny Testaverde was signed three days before the game and came in and led the Panthers to a victory after a cross-country road trip.

PREDICTION: Panthers 30-27

KEYS TO THE GAME: The major concern for Arizona has to be DE Julius Peppers rushing from the blind side of fumble-prone QB Kurt Warner. ...

Knowing their defense will be under fire all game, look for the Panthers to come out early with a heavy dose of RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The Cardinals give up 220.3 passing yards per game, and the secondary will be even more vulnerable if the Panthers are able to establish their running game. Arizona's defense is healthier coming off its bye week, and really needs a few big plays out of emotional leader S Adrian Wilson.

KEY INJURIES: Cardinals: Boldin (facial fractures) has taken part in limited practice and is questionable. Panthers: C Ryan Kalil (ankle) and RT Jeff Otah (ankle) are practicing and hope to return this week; WR D.J. Hackett (knee) is expected to miss at least one more game.

FAST FACTS: Cardinals rookie RB Tim Hightower has converted all 10 of his runs on third-and-1 or fourth-and-1. ... The Panthers are 5-0 this season when rushing for at least 100 yards and 0-2 when they don't.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Cardinals:

--WR Larry Fitzgerald is gaining more yards after the catch, something coaches have been emphasizing since the offseason. Fitzgerald is enjoying perhaps his best season and has yet to drop a pass.

--RB Edgerrin James is on pace to gain 968 yards on 268 carries. Both would be his lowest totals since the 2001 season. He missed 10 games that year with a knee injury. James is sharing the load with rookie Tim Hightower and third-down back J.J. Arrington. James is frustrated by his diminished role because it's prompted speculation he might be losing a step at age 30.

--RB Tim Hightower has five rushing touchdowns, the most by a Cardinals rookie since Ronald Moore had nine in 1993. Hightower is averaging about seven carries a game, and that number should increase if he continues to produce.

--SS Adrian Wilson appears to be running much better after struggling in recent weeks with a hamstring injury. Wilson was limited to six plays against Buffalo and wasn't at full strength against Dallas.

--QB Kurt Warner's numbers after six games are similar to those he posted his MVP years, 1999 and 2001 in St. Louis. Warner has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,708 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. In 1999, he completed 72.8 percent of his passes in the first six games, for 1,531 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions. In 2001, he completed 69.3 percent for 1,779 yards, 12 interceptions and four touchdowns.

Panthers:

--WR Dwayne Jarrett should be the No. 3 receiver again this week even though D.J. Hackett is back on the field practicing on a limited basis.

--OT Jeff Otah (ankle) sat out practice on Thursday and it's likely the team will hold him out through the bye week to give him extra time to rest.

--RT Jeremy Bridges will start this week if Jeff Otah can't go.

--C Ryan Kalil (ankle) sat out practice on Thursday and it's likely the team will hold him out through the bye week to give him extra time to rest.

--C Geoff Hangartner is likely to start this week if Ryan Kalil can't go.

--K John Kasay is a perfect 14-for-14 this season on field-goal attempts.


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