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Cards Hopes High For 2006 (1 Viewer)


Sorry if :HONDA:

Young Stars, New Stadium Bolster Cards' 2006 Hopes

Arizona Still Has Holes to Fill Before Move Into New Glendale Home

By BOB BAUM, AP Sports

TEMPE, Ariz. (Jan. 2) - The Arizona Cardinals have a magnificent pair of wide receivers. But with an unsettled quarterback and a woeful running game, the second season under coach Dennis Green ended in disappointment.

The team went 5-11, one fewer victory than in Green's first season.

Next fall, the team moves into its $370 million new stadium with a nucleus of young talent. But some glaring problems must be solved to create a winner out of one of the least successful franchises in all of professionals sports.

"Me, Anquan, Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby, Adrian Wilson - we're guys who are going to be here," said Larry Fitzgerald, who tied for the lead in the NFL in receptions and made the Pro Bowl in his second pro season. "We're going to be asked to do a lot of good things here in the future. I feel as though we are the foundation."

Fitzgerald had 103 catches and Anquan Boldin had 102, only the second teammates in league history to top 100 catches and 1,400 yards receiving in the same season. The others were Herman Moore and Brett Perriman of Detroit in 1995.

"We threw the ball too much," Green said Monday. "Those guys are two pretty good players, but they should not have to make that many plays. I don't think there are two receivers in this league who got hit as many times and as hard as Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald."

Boldin would trade his numbers for a running game.

"If you ask anybody in here, we want to get the running game going a lot better," Boldin said. "We want to be a lot more balanced. It makes the game that much easier. Whenever you're on the 2-yard line and it's first-and-goal and you're not able to run it in, that's definitely saying a lot and that's definitely something we've got to correct in the offseason."

Even kicker Neil Rackers' record-breaking year had a negative side. His NFL-record 40 field goals, in 42 attempts, was directly connected with the team's ineptness in the red zone.

Injuries added to the team's woes. The Cardinals led the NFL with 15 players on the injured list, many of them offensive linemen. Green vowed to be "extremely aggressive" in free agency, specifically in search of offensive linemen.

Green is 11-21 in two seasons with Arizona. While his job is safe going into next season, a lot more losing won't be tolerated by the Bidwill family, which won't want crowds to dwindle now that its finally got a fancy new home.

"I think I've got to help everybody have a better atmosphere to do their job," Green said. "I don't call the plays on offense and defense. I have over the years, but prefer the role of being able to help those guys. I don't feel like I've helped them as much as I could have."

At quarterback, both Kurt Warner and Josh McCown are unrestricted free agents. Warner wants to come back. McCown said he wouldn't rule out returning, but in truth he almost certainly will seek a job elsewhere because he wants to be a full-time starter.

"I want an opportunity to play," said McCown, 9-10 as an intermittent starter for Green. "I know I can start in this league and I know I can be effective as a starter. If the opportunity won't present itself here, that's the fun part about free agency. You can have the opportunity to go see if you can do it somewhere else."

Warner, when he was healthy, showed he could still be one of the top passers in the game. He wants to return to help Boldin and Fitzgerald continue to grow.

"Obviously they're a special tandem," Warner said. "I love having those guys around. You know what you're going to get every time you step on the football field and you can't ask for more than that."

Boldin wants either McCown or Warner to return.

"I would like to go to the offseason knowing who my quarterback would be," he said. "Out of the three years I've been here, I've never gone into the season with the same quarterback, the same offensive coordinator for that matter.

"You bring a new guy in, you've got to get used to him, he's got to get used to you," he added. "It would be nice to have a guy that I've played with."

Green continues to praise the ability of John Navarre, even though he chose to start McCown the final two games of the season.

01/02/06 16:46 EST

BoldinFitzWilsonDansbyDockettBerryRolleBarrettRackersThe Cards have a really nice young nucleus to build around on D when they are all healthy.However, when you have 9 players on offense who probably shouldnt be starting in the NFL, it doesnt matter who you have on D. Ill be curious to see what they do in the offseason.


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