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"It's The Guys In This Locker Room"

Posted Nov 3, 2012

Cardinals travel to Green Bay counting on themselves to fight out of slump

Defensive linemen (from left) Nick Eason, Darnell Dockett and David Carter glance up at the scoreboard in the waning moments of Monday night's loss.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Not all win-loss records are created equal, and that’s the difficult part for Kerry Rhodes to shake.

“A lot of guys (on other teams) are 4-4 right now and are happy,” the safety said. “For us to be 4-0 and drop to 4-4, it’s a tough situation. The emotions of the season change so much (anyway), but for it to change that drastically, it’s pretty tough. You know we need to get a win pretty soon.

“But as a group, we are mentally tough. We just need to get one again, get that taste out of your mouth.”

A month of perfection gave way to a month of struggles for the Cardinals. Now, with the bye week looming on the other side of Sunday’s visit to historic Lambeau Field, the Cards open the second half of the season trying to track down the success from the top part of the schedule.

Even with the bye thrown in, the lineup of upcoming games is daunting. Four of the Cardinals’ next five games are on the road, all in places that are difficult to play, including Atlanta, New York and Seattle. First comes the game against the Packers (5-3), who aren’t quite the same version of the team that won 15 of 16 regular-season games a season ago but contain much of the same firepower.

That’s the backdrop with which the Cardinals must fight through an extended losing streak for a second straight season.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald wouldn’t even compare the two streaks. As hard as this year’s has been, it did come on the heels of a 4-0 start. Last year, “it was pretty bad,” Fitzgerald said, but there is knowledge now that these same players were able to string together a good winning streak. That isn’t forgotten.

As for the team fraying from within, Fitzgerald said that’s something he keeps an eye out to “try to nip it in the bud, but I haven’t seen any of that.”

“What usually happens, even in (my) early days when we’d put up a lot of points but sometimes the defense would struggle, or now when the defense is playing really good ball and this offense is having some struggles, you (worry) about some of that in-fighting,” Fitzgerald said. “But there’s been none of that. We’ve got a good rapport with the defense, they are very encouraging. That’s what it takes to be a complete team. You can never have that disconnect.”

Injuries have hammered the Packers. Already six players have been ruled out for Sunday, filling up their inactive list with starters or key reserves. A seventh player, wide receiver Jordy Nelson, is questionable but didn’t practice all week with a bad hamstring.

Green Bay also didn’t look sharp against a bad Jacksonville team last week at home, although the Packers did come away with yet another win. If it wasn’t for the brutal Hail Mary touchdown call allowed to stand in Week 3 with the replacement officials, the Packers – even with all their “trouble” – would still be 6-2. Yet there is a feeling of vulnerability with the team that wasn’t expected to be there when the season started.

Maybe that is something with which the Cardinals can capitalize.

“It’s a cliché, but we are a working football team,” said Cardinals veteran defensive end Vonnie Holliday, himself a former Packer. “This is a hard-working football team. That’s how we found our way out of what happened last year. Our work ethic is how we are going to get out of this and what we have to go back to. That’s what we keep telling the guys: Keep working.

“At the same time, you do try to head some of (the bad thoughts) off. Go to a guy who is struggling, saying, ‘OK, let’s get it going.’ Try to help a guy with his technique, help a guy who psychologically might be in a funk.”

All it takes is one win to grab back some momentum, Rhodes said. The Cards have to get that one win, though.

“There is no miracle, no guy who is going to come in and save the day,” Holliday said. “It’s the guys in this locker room.”


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