Back on track, Cardinals face short week
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Their second 10-win season in a row secured, the Arizona Cardinals went back to work Monday to prepare for a game Thursday night against the rolling St. Louis Rams.
Coach Bruce Arians said there would be no significant physical work done in the team’s two practices before boarding a plane on Wednesday because the players are still recovering from playing on Sunday.
“You do basically everything as a walk-through,” he said.
Arians has criticized the NFL’s Thursday night games in the past.
“I’m on record about Thursday night football,” he said. “It’s here to stay. Hopefully, we don’t have Wednesday night football.”
Arians said the short week is “a lot tougher on the road team.”
“You have to travel on Wednesday and flying at any time you have swelling, it’s not a good match,” he said.
Arizona is playing meaningful games in December, and that’s always a goal, the coach said.
“For some teams, it (playing in December) doesn’t mean a damn thing except the season’s almost over,” Arians said. “I’ve been on that side. This one means a lot because everything rides from here on in, so every game is a real playoff game, especially in the NFC with so many teams sitting at nine (wins).”
One of those teams is Seattle. The Seahawks are a game behind the Cardinals and come to Arizona a week from this Sunday. The flip side of playing on a short week is getting extra time to rest and prepare for the next game.
“Yeah, it’s a bad week until Friday,” Arians said, “then it’s a nice week and you’re glad you played Thursday night.”
With its 17-14 win over Kansas City on Sunday, Arizona reached 10 wins two years in a row for the first time since 1976.
The Cardinals coaches put the game plan together for the Rams last week, even as the team was preparing for Kansas City. It better be a good one because St. Louis has outscored its last two opponents, Oakland and Washington, by a combined 77-0.
“They’re playing as good a football as anybody now,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “It’s a division game, a team you know. They know us, guys you’ve played against multiple times. It’s going to be a good football game.”
The Cardinals had lost two straight, both on the road, before beating the Chiefs. The team improved to 7-0 at home, the most for the franchise in the 16-game era.
Arizona is 13-2 at home in Arians’ two seasons with the team.
The Cardinals’ ground game, so bad most of the season, broke out behind Kerwynn Williams, who had never carried the ball in a regular-season game until Sunday. Two days after being elevated from the practice squad, Williams rushed for 100 yards, the first time this season anyone had reached the century mark.
But Williams won’t necessarily be the featured back in St. Louis.
With Andre Ellington out for the season with a hip injury, the Cardinals plan to rely on the trio of Williams, Stepfan Taylor and Marion Grice.
But have no doubt, Williams will get the ball.
“Oh yeah,” Arians said. “He’ll get his chances to do it again.”
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