GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -An appearance on Monday night football is a chance to show that these are not your father's Arizona Cardinals - or your grandfather's or your great-grandfather's, for that matter.
This franchise has defined professional sports ineptitude for decades. A national stage in prime time Monday against the San Francisco 49ers is the perfect place to show that's not the case anymore.
``I think it's a great opportunity for us to show who the Arizona Cardinals are,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
Halfway through the season, the Cardinals were 5-3 with a three-game lead in the weak NFC West. The other three teams in the division - San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis - were each 2-6 heading into the weekend.
Whisenhunt just has to make sure the team isn't too emotionally charged for its rare Monday night appearance.
watching you play, it's human nature to want to make a play.''
The staff has preached the importance of staying disciplined within the scheme to allow the big plays to come without forcing them.
Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner, the 37-year-old leader of the highest-scoring offense in the NFL, says he would much rather this was just another Sunday game.
``I'm kind of I guess old school in that regard,'' he said. ``I just want to show up and play and would rather do it as soon as I get out of bed instead of waiting all day and having to think about the game.''
As for the chance to show that the Cardinals are a laughingstock no more, big deal, Warner said.
``I couldn't care less until it comes playoff time,'' he said. ``We'll be on TV if we get to the playoffs and everybody around the world can watch then. But right now, we're 5-3 and I'm not real worried about anybody else out there and what they think we are as a football team.''
He knows any positive recognition a team can get is good.
``But as a player that's not my mentality: `Man we've got to show people,''' Warner said. ``Whatever. Let's just keep playing football and let's keep getting better and we``ll have our opportunity to show people what kind of football team we are if we continue to do that.''
t we've got.''
But he emphasized there is another team on the field, and that a victory over San Francisco is by no means certain, even if Arizona has won five consecutive home games and is 3-0 here this year.
``You probably think it's an easy win but we're going to fall for that trap,'' Dockett said. ``We know that's the team that kept us out of the playoffs last year and beat us a couple of times the year before. We just want to go out and execute and play ball and not get caught up that it's Monday night football.''
San Francisco is one of two teams to win at Arizona since Whisenhunt became Cardinals coach.
The 49ers have had a week off since they lost to Seattle 34-13 in Mike Singletary's debut as interim coach following the firing of Mike Nolan. Singletary made it clear in that loss that things will be done his way from now on, sending tight end Vernon Davis to the locker room during the game, then criticizing the player afterward.
Singletary has benched quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan in place of journeyman Shaun Hill, who will make his third start, and first on the road, in seven NFL seasons. The 49ers are revved up about appearing on Monday night, too.
``It's an awful lot of excitement in that locker room and in the building,'' Hill said. ``Everybody's had a little time to step away and now everybody's' excited to get back and go on and try to finish the season the right way.''
ockett said Hill, though, will not be Arizona's main concern.
``Frank Gore makes that team go, no matter who the quarterback is,'' he said.
The 49ers will be without receiver Arnaz Battle against a gambling, aggressive Arizona defense that is well aware San Francisco has allowed 34 sacks through eight games.
``That's definitely something we're trying to get right,'' Hill said.
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