|Warner finds fountain of youth in desert|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 19 September 2008 07:01|
For Warner, it seems like old times in St. Louis, when Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt were his targets in the ``Greatest Show on Turf'' and the Rams were Super Bowl champions.
Nobody is putting the Cardinals in that category. But they are 2-0 for the first time in 19 years, thanks largely to Warner's accurate arm and the sure hands of his young receivers, both of whom already have two Pro Bowl appearances apiece.
``I've just been fortunate to play with a lot of good receivers,'' Warner said. ``Everyone always asks who's your favorite, and I can't pick a favorite. They all do things great.''
In last week's 31-10 victory over Miami, Warner had the third perfect quarterback rating of his career, tying Peyton Manning for most in NFL history. He also had his 42nd career 300-yard passing game.
including a tackle-breaking 75-yard reception. Boldin caught six for 140 yards and three scores, one of them a 79-yarder on Arizona's first possession. It was the sixth time the pair had topped 100 yards receiving in the same game.
``Nothing that Larry or `Q' does on the football field surprises me,'' Warner said. ``It almost becomes an expectation. That's how it was in St. Louis. We just expected to make big plays; we expected to make big plays week in and week out.''
Through two games, Warner is the NFC's top passer, second to Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger in the entire NFL. He's completed 70 percent of his throws for 558 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. In fact, the Cardinals have yet to commit a turnover.
It's a performance that, so far at least, more than justifies coach Ken Whisenhunt's choice of Warner over Matt Leinart. Warner was outspoken all along in his belief that he still can play at a high level.
``I'm sure it's real satisfying to him,'' Boldin said. ``He told everybody he can play, and he's going out and proving it.''
Fitzgerald believes Warner is prospering because he knows the job is firmly in his hands.
``I think just having the sense of security for him just makes everything so much easier,'' Fitzgerald said. ``He knows he has the reins. He knows he's going to go out there and play.''
``What rejuvenates me is playing good football and winning,'' he said. ``That rejuvenates anybody.''
Fitzgerald broke one tackle and spun away from another in his 75-yard gain last Sunday. It was evidence of his work to improve one of the weaknesses of his game. At 6-foot-3 with great hands, he makes great receptions, but running after the catch never has been his forte.
His work to improve came after he signed a four-year, $40 million contract - $30 million guaranteed - just after last season.
``During that whole period when we were talking about the contract,'' Whisenhunt said, ``he said he felt an obligation when this whole process is over to show he could earn that money, to show he was worthy of that.''
Which brings us to Boldin and his contract situation. Boldin, who has a franchise-record 22 100-yard receiving games with Arizona, has asked to be traded, saying Cardinals management lied to him by promising a new deal during the past offseason.
Considered the tough, heart and soul of the team, the tackle-busting Boldin vowed he wouldn't let his situation affect his play.
Boldin caught eight passes, five for first downs, in the second half of the season-opening victory at San Francisco, then followed with his big day against Miami.
r room. Like I said at the beginning of the season, they've worked too hard this offseason for me to be a distraction.
``I refuse to be a distraction. I won't be a distraction, and that's all I've got to say about that.''
Whisenhunt believes that Warner and his star receivers have grown comfortable in the offense now that they're in their second season together. The coach also acknowledges tweaking his system to fit the abilities of the trio.
``We've adjusted better to what Larry and Anquan's strength are as receivers,'' Whisenhunt said. ``They're running the same patterns and the same schemes, but they're running them better.''
Leave it to the coach, though, to keep everything in perspective as the team headed east for games against Washington and the New York Jets.
``It's only two games,'' Whisenhunt said. ``If we're sitting here after 16 games and we're still having this conversation, then yeah, I think that they have great chemistry.''