Arizona Cardinals Offense Not 100 Percent
Andy Lyons (Leonard Pope/Getty)
Andy Lyons (Leonard Pope/Getty)

Posted Jan 14, 2009


The Cardinals enter their first NFC Championship Game on Sunday less than 100 percent healthy on offense. Starting tight end Stephen Spach suffered a torn ACL in his right knee last week in Carolina and is out for the remainder of the playoffs. Receiver Anquan Boldin, who missed last week's game with a strained left hamstring, remains questionable.

While Stephen Spach is hardly a household name, he had become an important part of the offense since signing on Oct. 28. He started over the past month, moving ahead of Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick, mostly because of his blocking skills. But he proved he could catch the ball, too, making a 23-yard grab late in the first-round game against the Falcons.

Pope and Patrick have been suffering from knee injuries late in the year, but will be counted upon against the Eagles.

Pope will start and Patrick will back up, provided he's healthy enough. He missed last week's game.

As insurance, the club re-signed veteran Jerame Tuman, who was released last month.

Boldin hopes to practice some this week, although it's doubtful he will do much. But he's a player who feels a lot more comfortable with some practices behind him.

He said the rest last week helped his injury and he's hopeful of playing Sunday.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--QB Kurt Warner must be able to handle the pressure brought by the Eagles' blitz schemes. Warner has been effective against the blitz all year, but the Eagles are better at it than most teams.

--RB Tim Hightower is the team's goal-line back, although Edgerrin James will play some in those situations. Hightower is a talented rookie who occasionally dances too much in the backfield.

--RB J.J. Arrington is getting fewer snaps because the team isn't running its four receiver formation as much. Arrington is usually the single back in that formation.

--RB Edgerrin James is back in the role as featured back and looks quick and fresh. He's been productive for three weeks now.

--WR Anquan Boldin likely will be questionable after missing last week with a strained left hamstring. He hopes to get in some practice time before playing.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald saw more man coverage than usual last week against the Panthers and had 151 yards receiving by halftime. Fitzgerald has been dominant in the two playoff games.

--WR Steve Breaston hasn't been a focal point of the offense in the postseason, but he's made the most of his chances and caught the passes thrown to him.

--TE Steven Spach is out for the rest of the playoffs after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament last week.

--TE Leonard Pope played last week and appeared to do a decent job blocking. Pope can catch the ball but hasn't been a target this season.

--TE Ben Patrick is expected to play after missing last week's game with a knee injury. He is mainly a blocker.

--DE/OLB Travis LaBoy played on a limited basis last week after missing three games with a knee injury. Bertrand Berry is the starter.

--K Neil Rackers has been very reliable this year, missing just three field goals in the regular season. He was three of four last week in Carolina, and the one miss was from 53 yards.



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