Leonard Pope (Andy Lyons/Getty)
The Cardinals have enjoyed good luck when it comes to health this season, but the tight end position has been an exception. The top two players, Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick, have missed several games apiece with injuries.
Both players are back now, and coach Ken Whisenhunt has made it clear he wants more from the position.
Twice this week Ken Whisenhunt has told reporters that players have been put on notice: produce or sit.
Asked this week about Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick getting back into a rhythm after missing time with injuries, Whisenhunt replied: "Hopefully, the stress this week of practice will help do that because it's been a little bit more tense on the practice field with that group."
Whisenhunt was asked in what context he meant "tense?"
"Usually in the same context you always mean tense. It was a little uncomfortable. Why? Because they're competing for who is going to play."
What Whisenhunt wants is better blocking. The tight ends haven't been a big part of the passing attack (16 receptions), although that low total is partly a function of Pope and Patrick being injured. The blocking failures of the past few games have hurt the team in short-yardage situations.
The team also hasn't been able to run outside.
"Every week we've planned on having tight ends," he said. "It just seems like they haven't been 100 percent healthy. Hopefully, this week we'll be able to incorporate some of those plays we haven't been able to use."
--WR Anquan Boldin leads the league with 10 touchdown receptions, a career high. He has scored a receiving touchdown in six straight games, a franchise record.
--WR Steve Breaston has gained more than 100 yards receiving in three games. He has 46 catches, the same number last year's No. 3 receiver, Bryant Johnson, had all season.
--QB Kurt Warner has been intercepted just twice in the past five games. He has 11 touchdown passes in that time. Warner hasn't thrown fewer than one touchdown pass in eight straight games.
--CB Eric Green has lost his starting job to rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the first-round pick. Rodgers-Cromartie played well in his first start last week, narrowly missing out on his first NFL interception.
--FS Antrel Rolle is starting to make plays after struggling a bit in his new position earlier this year. Rolle returned an interception for a touchdown two weeks ago and had another interception return for a score nullified by a penalty last week.