Arizona Cardinals On Top, Still Improving

Steve Breaston (Chris McGrath/Getty)

Arizona leads the NFC West by three games at the season's midway point, and it appears to be improving, at least offensively. For evidence, look at the season-opening victory against the 49ers compared to last week's win at St. Louis. In the opening game, running back J.J. Arrington was inactive. Receiver Steve Breaston was unproven, and rookie running back Tim Hightower was just a bit player.

Today, J.J. Arrington is a valuable cog in the team's third-down packages and spread formations. Steve Breaston has been dynamic and filled in nicely when Anquan Boldin missed two games. And Tim Hightower is now starting, gaining 109 yards on 22 carries in his debut in that role last week.

The Cardinals lead the league in scoring, have avoided major injuries and seem to be adding to their offensive arsenal almost weekly.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--QB Kurt Warner continues to post astounding numbers. He's completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and could make a serious run for his third MVP award.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald had two drops last week, his first of the season. In the season opener at San Francisco, Fitzgerald was held to three catches for 31 yards, although he scored a touchdown.

--WR Anquan Boldin has eight touchdown receptions, despite missing two games. His career high for a season is nine.

--WR Steve Breaston, the No. 3 wideout on the club, has emerged as a reliable player. His numbers might decrease, however, if the team gives the ball more to RB Tim Hightower.

--RB Edgerrin James has been phased out of the offense. He didn't play at all last week and will be a backup as long as Tim Hightower is healthy.

--RB Tim Hightower has seven rushing touchdowns, more than any Cardinals rookie since 1993, when Ronald Moore had nine. Hightower gained 109 yards in his first start.

--TE Leonard Pope hopes to return to practice this week after missing two games with a foot/ankle injury.

--TE Ben Patrick is struggling with a knee injury and has missed three consecutive games. Coaches are hoping he will be able to practice and play this week.

--DE/OLB Travis LaBoy suffered a groin strain against Dallas two weeks ago and missed last week's game. He likely will be questionable for most of the week.

--ILB Ali Highsmith was placed on injured reserve after suffering a right knee injury last week against the Rams.

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