Wells Expected to Receive More Carries

The Cardinals spent the bye week trying to pay attention to the details they think have contributed greatly to their two losses. But, really, the problems can't be considered details. It's not a detail that the Cardinals lost a fumble at the Indianapolis 5-yard line. It's not a detail that the Cardinals then let the Colts go 95 yards for a touchdown.

It's not a detail when Kurt Warner has been sacked seven times in the two losses, with a minimal amount of blitzes.

Those should be major areas of concern, and if the Cardinals don't shore them up, it's going to be a long season.

Offensive left tackle Mike Gandy and right tackle Levi Brown have struggled in the losses, and the Cardinals' inability to block the edge is a growing concern. Over the next three weeks, the Cardinals face some elite edge rushers in Houston's Mario Williams, Seattle's Patrick Kerney, and any number of ends the Giants can throw out there.

Larry Fitzgerald

The development of the run game would help, too. The Cardinals are having trouble getting the ball deep to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, whose longest reception is 25 yards. A consistent run game could open up the play-action, giving Fitzgerald a chance to beat the safety that usually plays over the top against him.

The Cardinals aren't deceiving themselves, however, when they say they are close to becoming a good team. The defense has looked solid in two of the three games, although it took a huge step backward against the Colts.

On offense, big plays are open but aren't being made. There has been a block missed here, a wrong route run there, a ball overthrown occasionally. But that's the lament of losing teams everywhere. If the Cardinals don't correct those mistakes soon, they will find themselves battling just to reach .500.

While the Cardinals aren't crazy about having a bye this early in the season, it should help bring them back to full health, or close to it. It will give Warner time to rest a sore right shoulder. Defensive end Darnell Dockett should be back from a sprained ankle.

Receivers Steve Breaston (knee) and Anquan Boldin (hamstring) have been limited in the first three games, too.


Alan Branch

--DL Alan Branch has been the most pleasant surprise in the first three games. Branch was a disappointment in his first two seasons, mostly because he was overweight. But he's down to 332 pounds and is a backup end and nose tackle. He's played well in rotational duty.

--RB Beanie Wells should get more carries in the coming weeks, provided the club doesn't go to its spread formations too much. Wells hasn't had much work in those schemes, so Tim Hightower takes over as the single back. Wells has shown some breakaway ability in his limited time.

--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is off to a rough start. He's given up touchdown passes in each of the past two games, and opponents don't seem afraid to test him. Rodgers-Cromartie needs to learn to practice well consistently and realize that carries over to Sundays.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald's longest catch this season is 25 yards, an indication the team has had trouble getting the ball deep. Fitzgerald is a bit frustrated, but he thinks the big plays will come with time.

--S Matt Ware should be able to play against Houston after missing two games with a shoulder stinger. His availability is important because he plays in passing situations, allowing strong safety Adrian Wilson to move to linebacker or to the edge as a pass rusher. Without Ware, Wilson has been playing back in coverage more, taking away one of his strengths.

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