Ken Whisenhunt Scouts Rams for Week Nine

Ken Whisenhunt (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)

Coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't surprised that the Arizona Cardinals are in first place of the NFC West. He says they had the opportunity to be a good football team and they took it. The Rams have a couple solid rookies that give them a fighting chance as well. Ken Whisenhunt talks about how St. Louis looks, how he splits time between his running backs, a turnover discrepancy and much more...

(On if he at all surprised to find himself atop the NFC West)

"I'm not surprised. I thought we had an opportunity to have a good football team. I'm thrilled that we are. I wish our record was a little better and if we played a little better in a couple situations it could be, but I'm pleased that we are leading the division."

(On despite the passing game catching everyone's eye, on what he can do to pick up the running game)

"I think situations dictated a lot of why we are where we are as far as relations to the running game and the passing game. I think that as long as we're not turning the ball over and we're continuing to move it with the efficiency that we are, we're going to continue with that. I realize that as the season progresses, we're going to have some games where we need the run game. Hopefully, our continued work on that will pay off for us.


QB Kurt Warner
(Getty)

Once again, a lot of the times in games, the way the defenses have played us, have led us to throw the ball a little bit more and it's hard to argue with the success that we've had. We continue to work on the run game. I still think that we can run the football, but if we are going to play a team that's going to overload the box like the Panthers did against us, and open themselves up to the pass, I'm just glad we can do it the way we did it so efficiently. If we don't turn the ball over like we did, I believe we could have won that game."

(On the turnover ratio being very different when the team is playing away as opposed to at home and if there is any explanation for the discrepancy)

"I don't know that there's an explanation for it. I think that in some situations, for instance last week, we had one of the turnovers that was a tipped pass and the other one was a fumble. The fumble, that's part of the game and that's going to happen. In the situation with the pass, we could just have easily have caught it. That particular turnover, we were getting ready to score, which could have changed the complexion of the game. Sometimes the breaks just happen that way. I know in the Washington game we had a ball bounce off a player's helmet up into the air which led to an interception. Sometimes that's just the way it happens. I think that it's part of the game but I hope that we can become better at it on the road."


WR Steve Breaston
(Getty)

(On if he was surprised at how much Cardinals WR Steve Breaston was able to contribute this quickly)

"We expected that he would be able to contribute based off what he did in the spring, the summer and the way he carried that over into training camp. I think it's always a surprise when you have a young player that he's as productive as quick as he was. You can have expectations or hopes that he will do that but you never know for sure until he steps up.

With (Cardinals WR) Anquan (Boldin) having missed two games, it was really a pleasant surprise that he stepped into that role and did so well. I think it makes us stronger because he's gotten a lot of play time as a possession receiver and has done well in that role. Now, our quarterbacks have a lot more confidence in him and he has confidence in himself that he can win at this level. When you have (Cardinals WR) Larry (Fitzgerald) and you have Anquan (Boldin) and then you have a young player like Steve (Breaston) who seems to be developing rapidly, it certainly aids us in being able to throw the football and be much more diverse with our throwing packages."

(On what he has seen from the Rams and how thinks they have changed in the past few weeks)

"They are 2-1 against three very good teams. We all know about New England and certainly we both have played both Dallas and Washington, so they are playing with great intensity. Their defense has made a few turnovers which have led to scores if they haven't scored themselves. They've gotten some big players on offense that have stepped up and made some plays. Obviously, we have given up some big plays so that's a concern for us defensively that we have to be able to stop that and make some tackles. I think they have some good edge rushers defensively and they are playing hard in their defensive scheme.

They look like a team that is confident and believes they can win and they are playing that way. We're under no illusion that this is not going to be a tough game. We understand that this is a good football team. We felt that way before the season started and it looks to me over the last three games that they are playing at a high level. That's a credit to the organization and to the players as far as the changes that they've made and how they are operating right now."


Neil Rackers
(Getty)

(On the status of K Neil Rackers and if he will be okay for Sunday)

"He had a hangnail. No, he tweaked his calf. He had a cramp in the game against the Panthers, in his calf and it led to a little strain. He was still able to kick during the game. It had just a little bit of soreness in it so we put him on the injury report so there would be no surprises but he seemed to do well today in practice and I don't anticipate it being a problem."

(On the Cardinals long snapper Nate Hodel being a local St. Louis guy and how he has played for the Cardinals)

"He's done a good job. As we all saw from the Pittsburgh Steelers/New York Giants game the other night, how critical that position is and a lot of times it's overlooked and an almost accepted part of the game that you're going to operate there. That's not always the way it happens. I think that he's done a very good job of being accurate with the snaps and in protection and that's important to us.

I think that we've improved, especially over the past few games, with our punting. A great part of that is because (Cardinals P) Dirk (Johnson) has improved kicking the ball and he's done that because the snaps from Nate (Hodel) have been good. We've done a good job in protection and that's always something that is difficult for those guys to do, snap and protect, and Nate (Hodel) does a good job with that."


RB Tim Hightower
(Getty)

(On the differences and similarities between the two running backs and how he divides the time between the two)

"They each have a little different skill sets, but (Cardinals RB) Edgerrin (James) is a veteran who understands a lot of different things about the game and knows how to run a lot of the components of our offense. (Cardinals RB) Tim (Hightower) is a young guy who appears to be maybe a little bit quicker on the perimeter who has also learned a lot from ‘Edge,' (Edgerrin James) who is a good, decisive inside runner that is learning how to operate in our offense.

I think it is a good mix between a guy like ‘Edge,' who is a power runner who does a great job of getting 3 or 4 yards and not having a lot of negative plays that can do a number of things as a receiver out of the backfield, with a younger guy like Tim (Hightower) who gives us a little more as an outside runner but is also does a lot for us in our ‘sub' packages. I've been around teams where we've had two backs and we've used those effectively. I feel like that is something we will continue to do here."

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