J.J. Arrington Seeing Increased Role

Running back J.J. Arrington has become an integral part of the offense, but it took a severe injury to receiver Anquan Boldin to get Arrington in the games. Arrington, a second-round pick in 2005, was inactive in the first four games as the club went with Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower at running back. But Anquan Boldin's facial injuries suffered against the Jets forced changes.

Steve Breaston replaced Boldin in the starting lineup, so Arrington was activated to take over Breaston's kick returning duties.

He also assumed some spot duty as a third-down back, and he's played so well that his role has increased almost weekly.

In the past four games, Arrington has carried 16 times for 102 yards and caught 12 passes for 117 yards. He's also made plays as a kick returner, taking one 55 yards against the Giants.

Arrington is a perfect fit for the Cardinals' spread offense, which features four receivers and a single back who sometimes lines up in the slot. Arrington often gets the ball in space via draws or short passes, and that's where he excels.

It's been a dramatic transformation for Arrington, who has been a disappointment in his tenure. He failed as an every-down back, and his toughness has been questioned.

Arrington's not a threat to take over for Hightower, but given the team's game plans, he's receiving almost as much playing time.

"One of the questions we had on J.J. was his ability to run inside," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I thought there were a couple of times last year when we were frustrated because J.J. maybe came up a yard short. This year, he seems to be breaking those."

Coaches think Arrington has shown more consistency. Arrington doesn't argue the point, but he politely disagrees. He thinks the difference is that he's getting opportunities.

"Even when I was just sitting back watching the scenery, I knew my time would come," he said.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--QB Kurt Warner dropped back to pass 53 times against the Giants. By one count he was hit 12 times, including nine times in the second half.

"I've had better days," Warner said on Monday. "We'll get the kinks out and get back at it. It's a tough schedule, but you've got to do what you've got to do."

--K Neil Rackers had made 15 consecutive field goals before missing a 68-yard free kick after a fair catch last week against the Giants. Rackers lined up as for a kickoff, but his steps were off and he ended up too far in front of the ball. That caused it to knuckle off the ground and veer left.

--S Matt Ware suffered a facial fracture on an onside kick against the Giants. After the game, Ware had a noticeable dent near his right temple. He is scheduled to undergo a procedure this week to fix it, and he likened it to body work on a car.

"They have to knock it back out so I don't have a dent in my face for the rest of my life," he said. "My wife wouldn't like that."

--RB J.J. Arrington will handle the kickoff return duties full-time now. Arrington returned a kick for a touchdown earlier this year, but Steve Breaston returned kicks after that. But Arrington broke a 55-yarder against the Giants, securing the job.

--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has made great progress and looks comfortable in a starting role. He had two interceptions two weeks ago in Seattle and broke up four passes last Sunday against the Giants.

--The team's depth in the secondary is paying some dividends. CB Rod Hood's rib injury could have caused some problems, but having two safeties, Antrel Rolle and Matt Ware, who have played corner gave the club some flexibility.

--RB Tim Hightower gained 109 yards against the Rams in his starting debut. Since then, however, he's rushed 35 times for 78 yards, a 2.2-yard average. The Cardinals think they are close to springing him for some big plays, but they aren't sticking with running plays much because the passing attack has been so productive.


CardinalsSource Top Stories