NFL Wire News

Cardinals promise not to get over-confident

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TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals insist they are staying grounded despite the giddiness of their followers over a 3-0 start.

Part of the reason they aren’t cocky, they said, is that head coach Bruce Arians constantly preaches about respecting “the process,” and taking work “one day at a time.”

It’s unusual for Arians to rely upon clichés, but the players seem to be buying it.

“You ain’t (expletive),” he told them last week.

But the Cardinals are a confident team and they have been since beginning practices this summer.

“We’re confident because we’re good, and we know it,” said quarterback Carson Palmer.

Players aren’t attaching much significance to the 3-0 start, he said.

“When things are going good it’s painted that things are going great, and when it’s going bad things are painted that it’s a lot worse than it is. That’s the game,” Palmer said. “If it was an issue with this group of guys and something that I thought was going to deter our focus or slow us down then I would be worried about. I’m not worried about it with this group. We realize we’ve played three games and we’re fortunate to win them.”

The Cardinals have beaten the Saints, Bears and 49ers, who are a collective 1-8. Their biggest test will come Sunday against the Rams, even though they are just 1-2.

The Rams are the best defensive team the Cardinals have played. Coincidentally, Palmer and backup Drew Stanton suffered knee injuries while playing the Rams last season.

Both injuries were non-contact. But the Cardinals know that the Rams defense will be trying to hit Palmer early and often on Sunday.

Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has a reputation for doing whatever necessary to bring pressure. But the Rams are so good up front, Palmer said, that Williams doesn’t have to call as many blitzes.

“It’s not the Gregg Williams’ defenses of eight to 10 years ago,” Palmer said. “They can rush four and get pressure on the quarterback. They are not a defense that brings a ton of different pressures. They do what they do and do it well. A lot of times they bring four and get after the quarterback. They lead the league in sacks per attempt, which is an impressive stat. It will be a great challenge for us.”

SERIES HISTORY: 73rd regular-season meeting. Cardinals lead series, 36-34-2. The Cardinals have won six of the last eight meetings, including three straight. The Cardinals paid a price last year, however. In the first meeting, they lost quarterback Carson Palmer to a torn ACL on a non-contact injury. In the second game, backup quarterback Drew Stanton went down with a knee injury and didn’t return that season. Receiver Larry Fitzgerald has played well against the Rams. In the first meeting last year, he caught nine passes for 112 yards.

GAME PLAN

–The Cardinals like to throw deep at least a half-dozen times a game, but that will be hard to do against the Rams’ pass rush. To be able to do that, the Cardinals have to be productive in the run game. The only way they can go deep is via play action. To combat the pass rush, the Cardinals likely will use a mixture of mass protection and spread formations. Carson Palmer will try to get rid of the ball quick, and he’s had success doing that, especially when throwing to Larry Fitzgerald.

On defense, the Cardinals must put the game in quarterback Nick Foles’ hands. That means stopping Todd Gurley, Bennie Cunningham and Tre Mason in the running game. The Cardinals’ secondary is the strongest part of the team, and it has to dominate against the Rams.


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