McCarthy: Cardinals Are 'Dangerous' Team


From the perspective of a fan, it's tough to figure out just what to make of the Packers' opponent this week, the Arizona Cardinals.

Are they as good as the team that should have handed the Chicago Bears their first loss of the season two weeks ago on the Monday Night Football national stage, only to squander a 23-3 lead by allowing two fumble returns and one punt return for touchdowns in the final 16 minutes?

Or are they struggling as much as they appeared to last week, when they dropped their sixth straight game after failing to score a touchdown and losing to a previously winless Oakland Raiders team 22-9?

But from the perspective of a head coach, who knows a little something about the opposing head coach, those questions are not his team's concern as they prepare this week.

"I think they're a very dangerous team. I have a lot of respect for Denny Green," said Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who faced the Cardinals and Green twice last season as the offensive coordinator in San Francisco.

"He's won a lot of football games in the National Football League. We fully anticipate him to have his team coming in here ready to go, whether it's the us-against-the-world mentality or something, but they're a dangerous football team. They do have talented players."

Like the leading receiver in the conference, for one. Anquan Boldin is tops in the NFC with 44 receptions and third with 561 yards. The fourth-year receiver has been a consistent weapon since racking up 1,377 receiving yards as a rookie in 2003, including 99 when the Cardinals beat the Packers in Arizona the last time they played (Sept. 21, 2003, a 20-13 decision).

Boldin hasn't been able to do it all, though. While rookie quarterback Matt Leinart has played well in two of his first three NFL starts, the offensive line has struggled to open up holes for running back Edgerrin James, who leads the league in rushing attempts (161) but ranks last in yards-per-carry (2.7) among the top 50 backs.

Green also admitted the offense can't adequately replace receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who tied for the league high with 103 catches last year and makes a dynamic 1-2 punch in the passing game with Boldin (who had 102). He has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and has yet to return to practice. He is listed as doubtful this week.

"Right now I'm seeing a lot of double teams," Boldin said. "Teams are trying to find ways to take me out of the game, whether it be a bracket, double-team, bringing a safety down, shooting a linebacker outside, or whatever it may be. They're just trying to find ways to take me out. When we have a guy like (Fitzgerald) on the other side, it makes it difficult to do that."

On defense, the Cardinals rank 23rd in the league in total yards allowed. But just like the Packers, who rank 32nd and believe you have to look beyond the statistics, the Cardinals are no pushover, particularly after holding the unbeaten Bears to just three offensive points two weeks ago.

"This defense is a lot better than people are giving them credit for," tight end Bubba Franks said. "To be honest with you, they have playmakers over there. If you give them a chance, they can put you in trouble."

Their biggest troublemaker is strong safety Adrian Wilson, a Pro Bowl talent who is tied for the team lead with four sacks and leads the team with three of its NFC-best nine interceptions, including one he returned 99 yards for a touchdown. The Cardinals move Wilson all over the field and let him attack from all angles, making it difficult to know exactly what role he'll take on any given play.

"He plays the run like a linebacker, plays the pass like a cornerback and is probably the best blitzing DB in the game," Green said. "He led the league last year as far as DBs with (eight) sacks."

So all that leaves plenty for the Packers to think about aside from Arizona's 1-6 record, which is not where they thought they'd be when beginning 2006 as a playoff hopeful.

"Guys in here, we're feeling disappointed," Boldin said. "But we still have nine games to play, and nobody is going to fold the tent and take it in. We're still going to come out and play to win every game."

That's all the Packers need to hear, not that they anticipated hearing anything different.

"Every team you play against, you're expecting them to come out and be their best," linebacker Brady Poppinga said. "You basically prepare that way, and history is in the past already. It really doesn't influence the way we prepare.

"We're preparing to provide our best, we're preparing for them to come with their best, and we'll see how it all pans out on Sunday."

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