Cardinals notebook: Team used to opening season on road - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Cardinals notebook: Team used to opening season on road

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Posted: Monday, September 1, 2008 8:04 pm | Updated: 10:22 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The NFL schedule-makers haven't done the Cardinals many favors at the season's start through the years. For the 19th time in 21 seasons in Arizona, the Cardinals will open on the road when they visit the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

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"You'd like to be at home with your home crowd," coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

"But among the things you have to do is play on the road, and you have to win. We have to face that challenge on the first week."

The first week is difficult because teams don't know what they'll see.

"In the preseason you never really see what the team is going to do in-season," because coaches don't want to show their cards, Whisenhunt said.

The Cardinals have started at home twice: in 2001, but only when their opener at Washington was postponed because of the Sept. 11 tragedy, and two years ago, when they opened their new stadium in Glendale.

LEINART AND THE FUTURE

Whisenhunt says he is excited about Matt Leinart's future with the organization, even after he lost a close battle with Kurt Warner for the starting quarterback spot,

"He's a good football player," said Whisenhunt. "He's made great progress. When it's his turn to play, I'm confident he'll do well."

Warner said he was relieved the decision was announced early enough so that the questions will pass and the team can concentrate on Sunday's game.

As for Leinart, Warner said, "I hope Matt believes I'm not just a has-been quarterback that can't play. I want him to believe I'm one of the better quarterbacks in this league, and he played very well. ...

"It was very competitive through this preseason and games."

"I hadn't seen Matt play as well as he did in this offseason, into the preseason, in the time I've been here."

With Warner's edge in experience, "And with what we started last year, I think probably that gave me the leg up."

PRACTICE SQUAD NAMED

The Cardinals signed eight players to their practice squad, including five players they recently released.

They are cornerback Michael Adams, defensive end Jason Banks, defensive tackle Keilen Dykes, receiver Lance Long and center Pat Ross.

They also added cornerback Wilrey Fontenot, the former Arizona standout who was released by Atlanta, receiver Onrea Jones, who was released by Indianapolis, and center/guard Anthony Oakley.

In addition, the team has linebacker Eduardo Casteneda on the practice squad as part of the NFL's international program.

INJURY UPDATE

Tackle Mike Gandy, who has a sore knee, practiced on Monday.

"He was a little sore and stiff," said Whisenhunt, who hopes Gandy will be OK to continue practicing and to play on Sunday.

Nose tackle Alan Branch, who has a sore ankle, didn't practice. His availability to play may depend on his ability to start practicing Wednesday.

The main health concerns appear to be the same ones heading into training camp, as nose tackle Gabe Watson and center Al Johnson are both coming back from knee surgery.

They worked on rehab drills on the side Monday.

Johnson is expected to miss at least the first game. If Watson can't fully practice by Wednesday, then he may miss Sunday as well.

TOUCHY SUBJECT?

Whisenhunt sounded a little testy when a reporter asked him if depth on the offensive line was his biggest concern.

"Have you ever heard me say I had a concern for depth on our offensive line?

"I don't believe I've said that. I don't have a concern.

"I'm very pleased with some of our young guys and how they've performed in camp."

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