Warner focuses on avoiding fumbles - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Warner focuses on avoiding fumbles

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Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008 7:24 pm | Updated: 12:03 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Now that Kurt Warner is the Cardinals' starting quarterback, he has two missions.

Win games.

Hang on to the ball.

The Cardinals will have a hard time accomplishing the former if Warner can't do the latter.

Wearing gloves has helped.

Beyond this, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, "I think the biggest things are moving in the pocket, which he's done a great job of ... and keeping two hands on the ball, especially when there's traffic.

"That's something he's worked very hard on, and we've worked very hard on."

Warner said ball security is "the one thing I've tried to work on more than anything through this offseason."

"It's even more of an emphasis with the coaches. You never want to make dumb mistakes and put your team in a difficult spot.

"I hope as the season progresses that it can be a natural thing, a natural reaction to cover up the ball and put two hands on the ball.

"It's that fine line of being aggressive and trying to make plays ... get out of the pocket but doing it in a smart way and make sure you protect the ball first."


Gabe Watson, out since the spring while recovering from knee surgery, returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday.

That means the starting nose tackle might be able to return for the Cards' second game, at home vs. Miami.

But backup Alan Branch is still struggling with a sore ankle. He did not practice Thursday, so hopes for his return Sunday at San Francisco have dimmed.

That would leave Bryan Robinson to take all the snaps at nose tackle - the backup would be Kenny Iwebema, a rookie defensive end - unless the Cardinals go to more 4-3 packages on defense.

Whisenhunt isn't saying.

"That will be something San Francisco will have to figure out," he said. "We'll figure something out. There will be somebody lined up."


Neil Rackers' poor track record on long field goals last year won't dissuade the Cardinals from trying them this year.

That's because Rackers has been "kicking extremely well," Whisenhunt said, including a 57-yarder in practice Thursday.

"I have confidence in Neil to make the long field goals."

Rackers was 3-for-9 from 50-plus yards last year.

The decision on whether to kick or try to convert a first down will be made in part on how well the Cardinals are clicking on offense, Whisenhunt said.


The Cardinals ranked 22nd in NFL ticket prices with an average of $65.08, according to the Chicago-based Team Marketing Report.

The average NFL ticket price is $72.20, up 7.9 percent from last year.

The Cardinals' prices jumped 14.8 percent, the report said.

The highest price is the New England Patriots at $117.84; these are the only average tickets priced at more than $100.

The lowest prices are charged by Buffalo at $51.24.


With 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan starting his first NFL game, the Cardinals figure to focus on running back Frank Gore.

Gore sliced the Cardinals up for 116 yards in the 49ers' overtime win at Glendale last year.

"He ripped us up pretty good," Whisenhunt said, recalling that he thought, "'Wow, this is why they talk about him the way they do. He's an outstanding player.'

"The more I see him, the more I understand what a dynamic player he is. He's somebody you better account for or he's going to hurt you, whether it's catching the ball out of the backfield or in the run game."

Linebacker Karlos Dansby noted the Cardinals were able to stop the run last season when they hosted Detroit, a team whose offense was coached by Mike Martz (who has the same role now for the 49ers).

On Sunday, "He'll try to feed Frank Gore," Dansby said of Martz.

"We know that. We'll try to stop the run."

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