Inside the Camps: Cardinals @ Carolina

It appears wide receiver Anquan Boldin will play Sunday against Carolina, less than a month after undergoing surgery to repair facial damage suffered in a severe hit the Sunday before. That's what's going on with Arizona, but what about the Panthers?

Anquan Boldin has participated in two straight practices, and although the Cardinals aren't saying if Boldin will play, Boldin admitted in a radio show Wednesday night that he will play.

A bigger concern for the Cardinals is their tight end position. The Cardinals have the depth to compensate for Boldin's possible absence, but they are down to one healthy tight end.

Starter Leonard Pope missed practice Thursday and was in a walking boot to protect his injured right foot and ankle. Backup Ben Patrick hasn't played since suffering a knee injury on Oct. 5.

The only healthy tight end on the 53-man roster is Jerame Tuman, who missed the first five games of the year with a hamstring tear.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt is hopeful that either Pope or Patrick will be able to play against the Panthers. If they can't, the Cardinals have the ability to compensate, the coach said.

The Cardinals use a lot of three- and four-receiver sets that call for no more than one tight end. They have two fullbacks on the roster in Terrelle Smith and Tim Castille and could use those players in blocking roles.

Panthers:

Steve Smith said after dropping touchdown passes in back-to-back games against Kansas City and Tampa Bay that he had a talk with quarterback Jake Delhomme.

"(It was) really just the lack of focus that I've had," Smith said of his previous drops. "I haven't been consistent as far as keeping my focus. So this game was the opportunity to really get back in there."

Smith said after Sunday's game he believed the talk helped.

He caught six passes for 122 yards and scored for only the second time this season on a circus-like 39-yard catch between double coverage while falling on his back as the Panthers routed the New Orleans Saints 30-7 at Bank of America Stadium. Smith did drop another pass near the end zone later on Sunday, but he'd already inflicted enough damage on the Saints to really matter.

"In his mind, I know he was disappointed because he dropped a walk-in touchdown pass in the Tampa game and it was something that ate at him," Delhomme said. "He was probably upset because he dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass and on top of that we didn't play well. When you want to be good at what you do, it just eats at you. It really does eat at you."

Although neither player would discuss the details of their meeting last week at practice, Delhomme said it was mostly Smith doing the talking.

"I'm a big believer in listening," Delhomme said of his talk with Smith. "If somebody wants to talk, you listen to what they say and don't tell them too many things. I'm a right-to-the-point type of guy. I don't need to beat around the bush with Steve; I tell him exactly how I feel and he knows it. And he knows I mean it."

So what advice did he give Smith?

"Just be Steve," Delhomme said with a smile.

If Steve is Steve this week, the Panthers could be in for a huge day.

Smith has absolutely torched the Arizona Cardinals over the years.

In his last three games against the Cardinals, Smith has averaged nine catches and 118 yards and one touchdown per game. The Cardinals come into Bank of America Stadium ranked 20th in the league in pass defense, so Smith should have plenty of chances to make more plays.

"You have to move on and focus on the task at hand. And he obviously did that," Delhomme said. "But you go through that during the season. This season is a grind. Those are tough times when you get down on yourself. I think I have a different relationship with him and he knows what I expect out of him. He needs to worry about Steve."


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