Seattle at Arizona; Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals battle in week-two of the NFL season.


Seattle Seahawks (1-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Curt Menefee, Tim Green
SERIES: Ninth meeting. Arizona Cardinals lead the series, 6-2, but after dropping the first five games Seattle has won  two of the last three. The Seahawks faced the Cardinals in their very first game in 1976 (30-24 Cardinals win). In their last meeting, Nov. 10, 2002 at Sun Devil Stadium, the Seahawks scored the first five times they had the ball and then forced three Cardinals turnovers in the red-zone in the second half to hold onto a 27-6 victory.
2003 RANKINGS: Seahawks: offense 24th (5th rush, 29th pass); defense 27th (19th rush, 26th pass). Cardinals: offense 1st (18th rush, 1st pass); defense 8th (8th rush, 14th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: In an attempt to deal with expected high temperatures, the Seahawks will rotate defensive lineman more often. Seattle knows it must increase its pass rush with two rookies starting in the secondary (CB Marcus Trufant, FS Ken Hamlin), and Arizona coming off a 344-yard passing game. But the Cardinals' receiving corps is dinged up, so RB Emmitt Smith will have to contribute heavily. Arizona has serious shortcomings in the secondary, and Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren is expected to be more aggressive than he was in Week 1 when the team build a big lead. The Cardinals also must deal a strong left side of Seattle's line that anchors the running game.
FAST FACTS: Seahawks: Seattle is 8-1 when RB Shaun Alexander rushes for at least 100 yards. ... QB Matt Hasselbeck has passed for an NFL-high 2,199 yards over the last seven games dating to 2002. He has 14 touchdown passes and a 92.9 passer rating during that span. Cardinals: WR Anquan Boldin's 217 receiving yards in the season opener was the second-highest single-game total in team history. Sonny Randle had a 256-yard performance in 1962. ... Arizona is 0-1 for the 10th time in 11 years.

PREDICTED SCORE: Seahawks 34, Cardinals 21

PERSONNEL NEWS
Seahawks:
   The Seahawks' attempt to crank up their pass rush didn't get any help when LB Chad Brown was added to the injury report Thursday.
   Brown's surgically repaired right foot remains sore after his first game back from a nine-month rehabilitation. The team listed the veteran pass-rusher as probable, but Brown won't be 100 percent even if he feels good enough to start.
   "There is some rust, obviously, just from missing so much camp and so much of last season," Brown said. "Then there is the actual physical part.
   "Some of it is mental and getting over the hurdle of really wanting to push my foot to see how far I can take it."
   While Seattle was generally pleased with its defensive effort in the opener, the pass rush wasn't particularly strong. Brown, who plays right end in the nickel, struggled with the spin move that helped him collect 10 sacks during his first 10 NFL seasons.
   Brown's lone sack in the opener resulted from a busted play. LB D.D. Lewis would start if Brown gets the week off. Brown missed practice Wednesday and Thursday.

Cardinals:
   -- WR Larry Foster (knee), who had one catch in the opener before he was injured, has not practiced and remains doubtful.
   -- WR Anquan Boldin, who caught 10 passes for 217 yards in his NFL debut, was named NFL rookie of the Week on Thursday and probably will start in Foster's spot.
   -- WR Bryan Gilmore (knee), who made his first career start in the opener, has a sprained medial collateral ligament, but could see action Sunday against Seattle. The injury, however, no doubt will reduce the effectiveness of the team's fastest player.
   -- KR Kevin Kasper (back), has not been ruled out but he has not practiced and it does not look good for this weekend. The Cardinals can live without his receiving, but Kasper's real value is his 27-yard average on returns.
   -- KR Jason McAddley, the sixth WR, would run back kickoffs and would be elevated in the wideout rotation depending on who among Foster, Gilmore and Kasper does not suit up.
   -- G Leonard Davis (ankle) had a negative MRI and has resumed individual work on the practice field. He is expected to try to play on a sore ankle and with a huge wrap covering a fractured right hand. The injuries will reduce the effectiveness of the team's best offensive lineman and could impede the running of Emmitt Smith and Marcel Shipp.
   -- RG Chris Dishman, who played the final three quarters in the opener, would start if Davis is unable. Dishman's work in relief was undistinguished, which can be said of his play overall since he started at LG on the 1998 playoff team. He's been a backup since.
   -- OLB Levar Fisher (concussion), the right-side starter, is expected to be in the lineup. He has been cleared for return.
   -- SS Justin Lucas (knee), was cleared to return from a concussion and then turned an ankle. His status for this weekend as the third safety is questionable. He has not practiced.
   -- WR Bryant Johnson, chosen in the first round but relegated to "the other rookie" status following Anquan Boldin's dazzling debut, has a chance to show his stuff with three wideouts possibly out of action. Johnson has been disappointing so far, and he has dropped a several passes this week on the practice field.
   -- RB Emmitt Smith might have rushed for 64 yards in 13 carries in his Cardinals debut, but take away dashes of 22 and 19 yards and he gained 23 yards on 11 carries. Those are numbers more frequently associated with the Cardinals' ground game for years with Thomas Jones and Leeland McElroy.
   -- TE Freddie Jones certainly wasn't a forgotten player. Making good on pre-season discussion, offensive coordinator Jerry Sullivan and QB Jeff Blake went to the tight end in the opener. The result: six catches, 65 yards. Look for much more of that, especially with the wide receivers suffering injuries.
   --DE Fred Wakefield showed why he was about to be replaced in the lineup before Kyle Vanden Bosch suffered a season-ending knee injury. Wakefield had only one solo tackle in the opener in a starting assignment.
   --DT Barron Tanner, a former starter who now rotates in as the third tackle, lit a fire under starters Wendell Bryant and Russell Davis, who were just so-so. Tanner had three tackles in 22 plays of relief duty. Bryant and Davis combined for only four tackles in longer stints.

INSIDE THE CAMPS
Seahawks:
   --QB Matt Hasselbeck battled through a persistent drizzle Thursday and practice was sloppy as a result. The weather in Seattle does not resemble the 100-degree heat expected at Sun Devil Stadium on Sunday.
   --TE Ryan Hannam (knee) is practicing and wasn't listed on the injury report. Hannam's lone TD reception came at Arizona last season, but he won't play a prominent role this week.
   --LB Isaiah Kacyvenski (ankle) probably remains a week away from returning.
   --D.D. Lewis could play a more prominent role this week because starting LB Chad Brown is nursing a sore right foot. Brown has yet to practice this week and the team added him to the injury report Thursday. Brown is listed as probable.
   --LB Chad Brown is nursing a sore right foot. The team added him to the injury report Thursday and Brown missed practice again. The veteran pass-rusher is listed as probable. He struggled a bit in the opener and isn't all the way back from foot surgery.

Cardinals:
   Now that Anquan Boldin has blown his cover, what does he do for an encore?
   The number of people who believed the rookie from Florida State would be leading the league in both receiving (10 catches) and receiving yardage (217) after Week 1 no doubt would equal the number of sacks posted by the Cardinals' defense in the opener (zero).
   The Cardinals' third receiver went over the middle to catch everything in sight just as Frank Sanders used to do - and then doing more after the catch than anyone the Cardinals have had on their roster recently.
   Boldin, the NFL rookie of the week, is expected to move into the starting lineup, not only on the basis of his strong opener - his receiving yardage was the most ever by a player in his first NFL game - but also because injuries have claimed at least two of the Cardinals six receivers and threaten another for Sunday's home opener against Seattle.
   "I don't know the learning curve or how fast you are supposed to learn," Boldin said. "I just have to tip my hat to the coaches, not only me but (fellow rookie) Bryant Johnson too, he's learning quickly, and that's all (because of) the coaches."
   Boldin could find himself in a match up against another potential game-breaking rookie who is forced to play because of an injury, Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant. Starting corner Shawn Springs will sit this one out.
   Boldin might have come from nowhere to surprise the hapless Lions in the opener, but from this point forward defensive coordinators will know who Boldin is, and they'll undoubtedly have wrinkles ready to thwart the rookie.
   That could be especially true this weekend if starters Larry Foster (ankle) and Bryan Gilmore (knee) and backup Kevin Kasper (back) can't play. Foster and Kasper are very doubtful. Gilmore's status might go to game time.
   While fantasy-league players will be awed by Boldin's numbers, real lovers of the game will be equally impressed with the little things, everything from how he runs routes and gets open, to his blocking.
   Boldin flattened Lions defensive end Robert Porcher on one play.
   Four other receivers were off the board when the Cardinals chose Boldin 54th overall in the second round.
    "It was pretty evident early that Anquan was a more mature guy than your average receiver," said offensive coordinator Jerry Sullivan. "He wasn't awed by the competition."


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