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Opponent Friday: The Arizona Cardinals

Cards Coach Ken Whisenhunt

(On what he saw from the Dolphins last week on film) – “I saw a physically disciplined football team. They played hard. I thought they did a good job with their responsibilities and they didn’t stop until the whistle blew. That was very impressive.”

(On Chad Pennington and how you game plan for him)  – “I was with the Jets when we drafted Chad so I know him a little bit, plus I’ve played against him during his course in the league. I know what type of quarterback he is; I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a very smart quarterback, he understands the game, anticipates things very well, had a good feel for moving in the pocket and he manages the game extremely well. I know it will be a challenge for us because I he gets into a rhythm, he can really hurt you. We’re going to have to prepare this week to face a guy that I though in the second half played pretty well.” 

(On what was his biggest challenge in his first year with Arizona) – “I guess, maybe getting everybody on the same page of how we are going to do things. I think Coach Sparano was asked a question similar to that and he answered that it was a process, and that’s exactly what it is. It’s a process. It’s not something that you can just do overnight, it takes time. That’s what it seems like was the biggest challenge for us and me, our first year, was trying to get our team, everybody; and that’s not just football. We’re talking about how you practice, how you study or prepare for a team, even as something as simple as how you travel. There are always questions about everything in your first year and until you’ve gone through that process there’s always going to be little distractions. We’re better this year because a lot of those questions have been answered and we’re able to focus in on preparing, and preparing the way we want to.”

(On how big a challenge it is to change an entire culture in a franchise) – “When we win some games here and we’ve done that, I’ll let you know. I certainly know a lot of the coaches on that staff, I’m familiar with Coach (Bill) Parcells, I know how they’re doing things and the thing that I’m impressed with and I know that they’ll have success with, is the fact that they will be consistent and they will stay true to that course. To me, it’s just a matter of time. I already see a much different football team on tape from last year to this year. I anticipate that it will be a tough match for us this week.”

(On how you prepare for a team that has 27 new players, a new 3-4 front, new offense and new coaching staff) – “To me, it’s a little bit like preseason from the standpoint that you’re going to have to make adjustments during the course of the game. I know we’ll see some things that we haven’t seen, that we haven’t prepared for because we’re looking at so many different variables, so many different players, and I’m sure they’ll adjust some of their schemes. It really comes down to being able to adjust to some of those things. I think, hopefully because we’re a year into our program, we can do a better job of adjusting. I think that’s what we did this past weekend against San Francisco. We didn’t have a great first half, but we made some adjustments and came out and played much better in the second half. I think that’s going to be a little bit of the story of this game because I know the way that unit plays, both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, and even their special teams, there are going to be some wrinkles, there are going to be some things that you haven’t seen or haven’t prepared for. That’ll be a fun game for us.”

(On what he remembers most about this time with Joey Porter in Pittsburgh) – “What a competitor he was. What a fiery competitor and how much he was a big part of the leadership and even the personality of our football team. Knowing that he was the kind of guy that you wanted to go into battle with because you knew he was going to have your back.”

(On if he will have to keep an eye on Joey Porter during the game) – “We’ll make sure we keep the footballs away so he can’t come knock one off the tee.”

(On his impressions of Tony Sparano from their time coaching together in Cleveland) – “We were all trying to keep our head above water that first year in Cleveland. I was very impressed with Tony and the job he did. I know the transition coming from college to the NFL is a big jump for a coach and I thought he did a very good job with that. I’m certainly not surprised whatsoever that he’s had the success as an assistant coach and I know he’ll do a very good job as a head coach.”

(On if he’s ever seen a receiving tandem like Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin) – “We’re very pleased that we have Larry and Anquan. They’re both outstanding  football players and I think they make our team, not just because they are talented football players, but they bring a lot of other things to the table, I think from a leadership standpoint from how they play and I really admire the way they work with some of our younger receivers. I’m very, very fortunate to have two players of that caliber at receiver and I think our line is doing a great job protecting Kurt (Warner) and that makes us, I hope, a hard team to stop because of that.”

(On if it’s tougher to prepare for inexperienced receivers like the ones on the Dolphins) – “I’ve seen those guys make some plays in preseason and even last week. Anytime you’re going against an NFL caliber receiver, which I think they are, you better prepare because they can hit you for a big play if you let your guard down for a minute. Experienced or not experienced, I think that they have a good, young receiver corps there. I know because of Chad’s experience that he can find those guys and get the ball to them. We have to do a very good job of being disciplined in our technique and our coverage responsibilities this week so that we don’t get lax, would be the best way to say it.”

(On what concerns him the most about Ricky Williams) – “Getting him down, getting him tackled. I think he’s a very strong runner that has good vision, that’s not afraid to hit the hole. I see him make a lot of second level runs carrying guys with him. I think he looks quick, he looks explosive in the hole. He’s a guy that if you give him enough carries where he’s getting past the line of scrimmage he’s going to wear you down. Our biggest concern this week after having faced a back last week like Frank Gore, that was similar from the standpoint of being able to get those extra yards after contact, we’ve got to do a good job of tackling him.”

(An if it’s more difficult to prepare for a team with two running backs or a team with one featured back) – “I don’t think it really makes a difference in today’s league. You face so many teams that have two backs that you have to prepare for both of them. I think we’ve become used to that and a lot of teams that we face have a couple of backs. I think both of the Dolphins’ backs are similar from the standpoint of size and how they run and they’re good players. Regardless of which player is in there, we still have to do a good job of tackling and getting those guys down because in the open field or when they break through the line, they’re tough.”

(On how Anquan Boldin has been handling himself with his contract dispute) – “he’s been working very hard. I don’t think there was ever any question about how he would interact with his teammates or how he would perform on the field. I don’t think that’s in his makeup to do anything different than that. He loves the game, he plays hard and I believe him when he said he cannot take it to the field. I haven’t seen that whatsoever. He has been very good as far as how he’s worked and even taking time with Early Doucet, our young receiver, and working on things with him and some of our receivers. I think Anquan, more than anything, wants to win football games. He’s excited because we won our first game and it looks like we’re making a little bit of progress.”

(On how he’s using Tim Hightower along with Edgerrin James) – “I think that we have certain plays that we want to get Tim in there, but we’re going to give him opportunities as well. That’s something that he had to earn. I thought he did a good job in the first game, especially on two big fourth down runs for us getting that first down. I think that he’s gotten a little bit more in the plus column as far as being able to use him in the game. We will, in certain situations, just to rest Edge, especially if we’re having success running the football so we can ease some of that burden on Edgerrin. He’s a young player and being a rookie in the league, a lot of times you don’t want to give him too much. He’s done a very good job of handling his role and I hope that we’ll be able to get enough carries that we can expand his role.”