Passing Fancy

The Cardinals hope to have their top two receivers in the lineup Sunday in New Orleans, but they know they will be without their starting tight end.

Leonard Pope was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after suffering a dislocated ankle and possible fracture during last Sunday's game in Seattle. Rookie Ben Patrick and first-year player Troy Bienemann will step up to fill in for Pope, and the club re-signed veteran Tim Euhus on Tuesday.

Euhus was cut on Nov. 27 because the club needed the roster spot to compensate for injuries elsewhere.

Receiver Larry Fitzgerald appears to have emerged from Sunday's game in no worse shape than he entered. Fitzgerald played with a strained left groin, and was helped by a support device recommended by linebacker Monty Beisel.

Receiver Anquan Boldin hopes to play Sunday against New Orleans after missing last week's game with a dislocated toe. Boldin said the injury has improved, and he's hoping that a shoe insert will give the toe some stability.

It's the type of injury, however, that is hard to predict. No one is sure how the joint will react when Boldin goes full speed.

The Cardinals need all of those weapons in the final three weeks because they must win out to have a shot at making the playoffs. At 6-7, they have a shot of finishing with a winning record for the just the second time since moving to Arizona in 1988.

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Kurt Warner must avoid early turnovers if he's going to be successful. Four times this year, opponents have turned first-quarter interceptions into touchdowns. The club is 1-3 in those games.

--QB Tim Rattay probably won't play much unless starter Kurt Warner gets hurt. Rattay no longer plays in goal-line situations as he did in the weeks immediately after Kurt Warner suffered a torn elbow ligament.

--QB Tim Hasselbeck is the third quarterback and won't play unless Warner and Rattay get hurt.

--RB Edgerrin James was running well last week but the club had to abandon the run because it fell behind early.

--RB Marcel Shipp isn't going to get many carries this year. He plays in nickel situations but just doesn't see the ball much. He might get some carries near the goal line, however.

--RB J.J. Arrington is playing some in passing situations but he won't touch the ball much.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald will be limited in practice this week because of a sore groin, but he should be able to play Sunday.

--WR Anquan Boldin hopes to play Sunday after missing a game with a dislocated toe. Boldin has missed four games this season.

--WR Bryant Johnson is enjoying his best season. With injuries to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, Johnson has come through in the clutch for the Cardinals.

--TE Leonard Pope is out for the year after suffering a dislocated ankle last week against Seattle. Pope had improved as the year progressed and had five touchdowns.

--TE Ben Patrick, a rookie, is now the starter. He's an excellent receiver who needs to become a better blocker.

--K Neil Rackers has missed five of eight kicks from 50 yards and beyond, so it might benefit coach Ken Whisenhunt to be more conservative in trying long field goals.

--SS Adrian Wilson will undergo surgery this week on his sore right heel/Achilles and is out for the year. Wilson is expected to need four months to recover.

--FS Terrence Holt has just one pass defensed and no interceptions this year. He has not played well and the club could search for help there in the offseason.

--DE Darnell Dockett hasn't had a sack in four games but he has been putting pressure on quarterbacks and disrupting things in the backfield.

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