Boldin Troubles Bubble Over

Anquan Boldin's anger and bitterness toward the Cardinals organization bubbled to the surface again last week when coach Ken Whisenhunt de-activated him for the Bears game. Boldin complained after the game that no one was "man enough" to tell him to his face that he wasn't playing; he found out when he returned from warm-ups and saw that his gear had been removed.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt disputed that version of events, saying he told Anquan Boldin as soon as he could after turning in the list of inactives.

No matter how the dispute went down, it's another symptom of a relationship that's deteriorated over the years. Boldin distrusts most everything that comes out of the mouths of the Cardinals coaching staff and management.

He didn't believe the team was serious about extending his contract, which runs through 2010. He doesn't believe management was earnest in its professed willingness to listen to trade offers last spring.

And he likely doesn't believe Whisenhunt decided at the last minute to make him inactive last week.

Whisenhunt had a few reasons for the move, he said. The turf at Solider Field was thick and loose, and he didn't want Boldin to play on it with a sore ankle. With linebacker Gerald Hayes out, Ali Highsmith filled in as the starter and Whisenhunt needed a roster spot to compensate for Highsmith's absence on special teams.

Most importantly, Boldin had struggled in the second half of the previous two games because of the ankle. Whisenhunt didn't want to reach that point again, so he activated receiver Early Doucet instead.

Whisenhunt tried to diffuse the situation early this week by saying he understood Boldin's motives.

"In fact, that is kind of what you want to see because he wants to play," Whisenhunt said. "I think we all know how tough and competitive Anquan is. The fact that he was upset that he didn't play is what you would expect. I certainly have no issues with that whatsoever."

SERIES HISTORY: 22nd regular-season meeting. Cardinals lead series, 12-9. They've won three straight and five of the last six. They won at Seattle, 27-3, in Week 6 with a dominating performance. Seattle gained just 128 yards. Matt Hasselbeck was sacked five times. Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught 13 passes for 100 yards and Steve Breaston had 7 receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Cardinals were 14-4 at home in Ken Whisenhunt's first two seasons as coach. Now, they are 1-3, and the one victory came thanks to a late goal-line stand against Houston.

--G Deuce Lutui has a reputation for being an instigator on the field, so it didn't surprise teammates that Lutui was on the receiving end of a punch last week from Bears tackle Tommie Harris.

"It's just Deuce doing his thing, getting people to play out of their norm," center Lyle Sendlein said. "Deuce has a tendency to get people to want to come after him personally."

--The Cardinals have scored touchdowns on their opening drive in five games, including four of the last five. Their 35 points on first possessions is second in the NFL to the Saints, who have 38.

--The Cardinals scored on their first six possessions last week in Chicago. That's the first time they had done that since at least 1970, when the AFL and NFL merged.

--RB Beanie Wells is starting to produce for the Cardinals. In the last three games, he had gained 186 yards on 35 carries, a 5.3-yard average. In that span, he's had eight runs of 10 or more yards, including a 26-yarder last week against the Bears.

--Coach Ken Whisenhunt has now won 25 games with the Cardinals, including the playoffs. That ties him with Don Coryell.

BY THE NUMBERS: Minus 10 -- That's the Cardinals' turnover ratio in four home games this season. It's the biggest reason the team is 1-3 at home.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you think of all the road wins that we've had, we haven't turned the ball over. It's something that we've done at home, and it's cost us." -- Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL Running back Beanie Wells is becoming a bigger part of the offense. He's improved in picking up the blitz, and he's hanging on to the ball. Those are two things he didn't do well earlier in the year.

Wide receiver Early Doucet was active for the first time last week and he moved into the third receiver role, ahead of Jerheme Urban. Doucet concentrated on replacing Anquan Boldin in multi-receiver formations, while the Cardinals kept Urban on the outside, for the most part.

The Cardinals are getting a considerable amount of production out of their two tight ends, Ben Patrick and Anthony Becht. They have three touchdown receptions in the past three games.

PLAYER NOTES

--TE Stephen Spach could be the odd man out as Ben Patrick and Anthony Becht continue to produce. Spach missed three games because of an ankle sprain.

--WR Early Doucet played well in his first game of the season. Doucet, inactive in the first seven games, took over for Anquan Boldin and played well as the team's slot receiver.

--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also plays a valuable role in special teams. He deflected a field goal last week in Chicago, and Antrel Rolle's return led to a field goal just before the half.

--SS Adrian Wilson is coming off two consecutive poor performances. He played in the box against Carolina, which ended up with 270 yards rushing. And he gave up two touchdown passes last week against the Bears.

GAME PLAN: The Cardinals' offensive tackles, Mike Gandy and Levi Brown, must be able to protect Kurt Warner off the edge. If the Seahawks can't get to Warner with a four-man rush, the Cardinals should be able to move the ball against a questionable Seahawks secondary. On defense, the Cardinals need to find a way to get pressure on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, as they did in the first meeting this year when Hasselbeck was sacked five times. The Cardinals have been solid against the run, but their pass defense has been suspect.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Seahawks DRE Patrick Kerney vs. Cardinals LT Mike Gandy. Gandy has struggled against some elite pass rushers this year, and Kerney is certainly that when healthy. The Seahawks could match Kerney against right tackle Levi Brown, too. Seattle outside linebacker Aaron Curry, a rookie, also has been an effective rusher.

Seahawks CB Ken Lucas vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald had 381 receiving yards in his last three games against Seattle, including 100 earlier this year. Fitzgerald's longest reception this year is 26 yards as teams have tried to keep a safety free to double him, but he has seven touchdowns.

Cardinals OLB Bertrand Berry vs. Seahawks LT Kyle Williams. Williams is the team's fourth left tackle, recently signed off the practice squad. If he doesn't start, the job likely will fall to Damion McIntosh, a veteran signed just this week. Berry needs to dominate the matchup.

INJURY IMPACT: WR Anquan Boldin sat out last week, so the Cardinals are hoping the time off will benefit his sore right ankle. Boldin had been playing through the injury but it was getting sore and stiff in the second half of games.

--OLB Chike Okeafor has missed practice time this week with a sore back. His status for Sunday's game is unknown. Bertrand Berry will start if Okeafor can't play.

--LT Mike Gandy missed practice time this week because of abdominal muscle strain. Gandy is expected to play Sunday but Jeremy Bridges will start if he can't.

--WR Sean Morey missed practice time this week with a concussion. Morey's status for Sunday's game is undecided.

--ILB Gerald Hayes missed last week's game with back spasm and has missed practice time this week. Ali Highsmith would make his second consecutive start if Hayes can't play.


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