Warner Embarrassed, Whisenhunt Convinced

Kurt Warner (Stas Yamnitskiy)

The Cardinals emerged from the preseason with an 0-4 record and were successful only in "embarrassing ourselves," said quarterback Kurt Warner. Coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn't nearly that negative. In fact, he wasn't negative at all.

Ken Whisenhunt played for Joe Gibbs in Washington, and is a big believer in not showing opponents anything in the preseason. The Cardinals, he's convinced, will be better during the regular season because of game-planning and focus. "I think we're ready for this," he said.

Maybe.

What was most troubling about the preseason was an apparent lack of consistent effort. The starters played well in the first two games, but looked disinterested in the third game against Green Bay. As a result, they trailed 38-10 at halftime.

On the bright side, the club emerged from preseason in good health. Receiver Anquan Boldin missed the final two games with a hamstring strain, but he's expected to play in the opener.

Every other starter is healthy, and the important of that coming out of the preseason can't be underestimated.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

-- QB Kurt Warner struggled with his accuracy in the last two preseason games. While he didn't want to blame is receiving corps, throwing to several different receivers didn't help. Warner's game is based on timing and precision, and if receivers don't run exact routes, he can look bad. Still, he didn't handle pressure well.

-- RB Tim Hightower is the starter and he had a productive preseason. He ran hard and didn't dance in the backfield nearly as much as when he struggled last year.

-- RB Beanie Wells isn't 100 percent recovered from a sprained right ankle, but he looked quick and explosive in recent games. He should get at least 10 carries as the backup.

-- WR Larry Fitzgerald had a quiet preseason as the club kept him under wraps. Fitzgerald rarely moved around the formation and was in motion only a handful of times. But he looked great in practices.

-- WR Anquan Boldin missed practice Monday with a sore right hamstring. He missed the final two preseason games but is expected to play against the 49ers. Boldin always plays better when he practices, however, so his availability for Wednesday's workout will be key.

-- WR Steve Breaston looked rusty in the preseason finale. He missed the previous two games with a bruised knee. Against Denver, he lined up wrong twice and wasn't much of a focus in the passing game. Breaston should be healthy for the opener.

-- TE Stephen Spach will start against the 49ers but it's doubtful he'll be much of a focus in the passing game. The Cardinals don't use their tight ends as receivers much, mostly in red zone situations.

--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie didn't play well in the final two preseason games, giving up big plays in each. He has the ability to be an elite corner but admits he needs to pay more attention to detail and be more consistent in practice.

-- DE Calais Campbell had a strong preseason and looks primed to take over at right end from Antonio Smith, who signed with the Texans. At 6-8, Campbell could be a real force if he refines his pass rush moves.

--SS Adrian Wilson continues to be a versatile player for the Cardinals. In nickel situations, he can line up at linebacker, as well as blitzing off the edge. The Cardinals will try to get him matched up against running backs in protection.

-- RB LaRod Stephens-Howling could be a dynamic kick returner if he's recovered from the concussion he suffered in the third game. Stephens-Howling doesn't have great speed, but at 5-7, he can be hard to find and he's quick and elusive.

-- QB Matt Leinart has a sore left shoulder and didn't play well in the preseason finale against Denver. Leinart was productive in the preseason, however, clearly beating out Brian St. Pierre for the backup's job.

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