Cardinals Focus On Run/Seattle Seahawks

The Arizona Cardinals lack of run game is still a problem to fix, but the key concept going into Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks is to protect Kurt Warner and take the division win.

SERIES HISTORY: 21st meeting. Cardinals lead, 11-9. Arizona has won four of the past five games. The Cardinals traditionally have had trouble winning in Seattle. They had lost five straight there until sweeping the Seahawks last season. The Cardinals have had trouble protecting Kurt Warner in Seattle in past years, and their offensive line has been shaky in that area this year.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Cardinals' defense is ranked first in the league against the rush but is last against the past. The Cardinals led the league in touchdown passes given up last year with 36. They are on the same pace this year with nine in four games.

--Coach Ken Whisenhunt would like to give rookie running Beanie Wells more carries and regrets not doing it last week when the Cardinals had a 21-0 lead at halftime.

"Obviously if that dumb guy that is calling plays will call more runs, then Beanie will get more opportunities," said Whisenhunt, who calls plays.

--Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown last week, despite playing with a cast on his right hand because of a broken index finger. Coach Ken Whisenhunt mentioned Rodgers-Cromartie's play in the same sentence as Cardinals Hall of Famer Larry Wilson intercepting a pass while wearing casts on both hands. Safety Adrian Wilson cautioned to hold off on the comparisons.

"Let's pump our brakes a little bit," Adrian Wilson said of the comparisons. "Larry did some pretty phenomenal things. If you want to put (Rodgers-Cromartie) up there, you can, but I wouldn't, personally, quite yet."

--Running back Tim Hightower has caught 25 passes, the second most in the league for a running back. The Colts' Joseph Addai has 28 but he's played in one more game than Hightower.

BY THE NUMBERS: 50 -- That's the number of games in which Kurt Warner has thrown for at least 300 yards. He is one of five quarterbacks in NFL history to accomplish that feat.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's gonna be a helluva week this week at practice because this is personal between us and Seattle. We know for a fact we'll get their best shot and I'll probably send Matt Hasselbeck a Twitter message later this week, so stay tuned." -- Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby needs to start making an impact after three quiet games. Dansby hasn't made the big plays expected of him. He has half a sack and a forced fumble, but no interceptions.

The return of S Matt Ware from a shoulder injury helped strong safety Adrian Wilson play one of his best games of the season. Ware plays safety in the dime package, allowing Wilson to move closer to scrimmage, which is his strength.

The team hasn't had a sack in the past two games, so it's needs to find a rush from somewhere. Houston went to max-protection so the Cardinals blitz didn't produce. And the Cardinals never touched Peyton Manning the week before.

PLAYER NOTES

--DL Alan Branch is playing a lot of snaps at both nose tackle and end. Branch lost about 25 pounds, down to 334 or so, this off-season, and that's given coaches the confidence to play him more.

--RB Beanie Wells needs more carries. He's had only nine attempts in the last two games, even though he's been impressive on a few of his opportunities. Wells has hard time getting on the field in single-back formations because coaches aren't yet confident in his pass

blocking abilities. --TE Ben Patrick returned from a four-game suspension and is likely to be activated this week. TE Stephen Spach could miss the game with an ankle injury, leaving Patrick and Anthony Becht to handle the position.

--NT Gabe Watson played one of the best games of his career last week, sharing time with starter Bryan Robinson. Watson is quick off the ball and powerful and is a solid reserve.

GAME PLAN: The Cardinals offensive tackles, Mike Gandy and Levi Brown, must be able to protect Kurt Warner off the edge. If the Seahawks can't get to Warner with a four-man rush, the Cardinals should be able to move the ball against a questionable Seahawks secondary. On defense, the Cardinals need to find a way to get pressure on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The Cardinals have been solid against the run but their pass defense has not been good.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

Seahawks DE Patrick Kerney vs. Cardinals LT Mike Gandy.

Gandy has struggled against elite pass rushers this year, and Kerney is certainly that when healthy. He's been struggling with a groin issue. The Seahawks could match Kerney against right tackle Levi Brown, too. Seattle outside linebacker Aaron Curry, a rookie, also has been an effective rusher.

Seahawks CB Ken Lucas vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald had 281 receiving yards against Seattle in two games last year. Fitzgerald's longest reception this year is 26 yards as teams have tried to keep a safety free to double him. Maybe that will leave Anquan Boldin or Steve Breaston in single coverage.

Cardinals OLB Bertrand Berry vs. Seahawks LT Kyle Williams.

Williams is the team's fourth left tackle, recently signed off the practice squad. If he doesn't start, the job likely will fall to Damion McIntosh, a veteran signed just this week. Berry needs to dominate the matchup.

INJURY IMPACT: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has a fractured right index finger, but played well with the injury last week.

--LG Reggie Wells has a serious injury to his left thumb, but has playing been playing through it. He should be able to practice this week.

--TE Stephen Spach suffered a right ankle sprain against the Texans and might not be able to play this week. Ben Patrick is coming off the suspended list and is expected to be activated.

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