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Without Catches, Roberts Helps Elsewhere

Posted Oct 6, 2011

Notebook: Hamstring holds back Heap; Bridges prepared for anything

Wide receiver Andre Roberts (12) comes out of the tunnel before Sunday's game with running backs Alfonso Smith (46) and LaRod Stephens-Howling (36).

Andre Roberts was in Sunday’s game for 63 plays although the wide receiver wasn’t targeted on any of the Cards’ 30 pass attempts, a result that was “definitely frustrating,” he said.

But as wide receivers coach John McNulty had pointed out, it might be the 60th play in which Roberts’ number was called.

“Of course it is frustrating,” Roberts reiterated. “But you have to keep working hard with it.”

Roberts is technically the team’s No. 2 receiver, but his nine receptions are fourth on the team, behind not only No. 1 Larry Fitzgerald (23) but tight end Todd Heap (13) and slot receiver Early Doucet (13). The Giants’ game was more of an outlier however; coming into the game Roberts had been targeted the second-most on the team, after Fitzgerald.

Roberts hasn’t made the kind of impact catching the ball he would like, but offensive coordinator Mike Miller said Roberts is “in command of what he needs to do.”

“He’s explosive and strong,” Miller said. “We send him into the box to block that eighth guy all the time, so from the standpoint of how we operate with the ‘Z’ receiver, he’s been able to do those things. He’s fast and he can stretch the field. Unfortunately this last game we just couldn’t get the ball to him, but the read dictated it go somewhere else.

Roberts returns to Minnesota Sunday, where he scored his first NFL touchdown last season and the place where coach Ken Whisenhunt said Roberts “started to get it” as an NFL player.

Roberts still needs build chemistry with quarterback Kevin Kolb too, but that’s in-progress, he said.

“It’s definitely not as much as Larry but I would expect that, number one guy, got to his timing first,” Roberts said with a smile. “But it’s coming along.”

HEAP WILL BE GAME-DAY DECISION

With tight end Todd Heap downgraded to a DNP at practice Thursday because of a sore hamstring, coach Ken Whisenhunt said he will “probably” be a game-day decision. Heap is one of four players nursing hamstrings right now – wide receiver Chansi Stuckey was also downgraded Thursday to limited in practice, while running back Beanie Wells and wide receiver Early Doucet are battling the same issue.

The only other injury report change was cornerback Michael Adams being upgraded to a full practice with a wrist injury.

For the Vikings, the big injury is to cornerback Antoine Winfield, who missed a second straight day of practice with a bad neck and who reportedly will not be able to play against the Cardinals Sunday.

BRIDGES PREPARED

Right tackle Brandon Keith (knee) continues to practice fully, although Whisenhunt said earlier in the week he would evaluate Keith by week’s end to determine if he or backup Jeremy Bridges would man the spot.

Bridges’ recent history against the Vikings is good. Back in 2009, subbing for an injured Mike Gandy at left tackle, Bridges – with help – handled Minnesota star pass rusher Jared Allen pretty well in a 30-17 Arizona victory.

Bridges came into this season as a straight backup, playing a chunk of the game last weekend against the Giants when Keith’s knee gave out.

“That’s what I am here for,” Bridges said. “I was joking with Rex (Hadnot), I’m at work, so whatever they want me to do, I’ll do.

“(Playing) is the ultimate goal. Hopefully I can get a little more playing time in. We’ll see.”

HYPHEN BACK FOR KICKS?

For the first time since the opening week, running back LaRod Stephens-Howling isn’t on the injury list. He had hurt his hand, which kept him from returning kickoffs last week even though he returned to the field.

“After he made that catch in the game (Sunday), when Kevin rolled to his right and threw it pretty hard and he caught it,” Whisenhunt said. “We felt comfortable with LaRod last week, but quite frankly, A.J. (Jefferson) hadn’t been doing a bad job either. There is a good chance LaRod will get some this week.”

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