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Ten Pressing Questions About the Cardinals Heading Into the Season

The East Valley Tribune has 10 questions today about the Cardinals upcoming season:

A year ago, the Cardinals talked of making the playoffs for the first time since the 1998-99 season, Anquan Boldin spoke of leaving the franchise in the dust and Matt Leinart was going to be pushed by Kurt Warner to be the team’s starting quarterback.

The Cardinals return to Flagstaff for training camp this week as defending NFC champions. Boldin and linebacker Karlos Dansby still could leave the franchise in the dust, but Adrian Wilson and Warner — whose 2008 turnaround season led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl and him to the Pro Bowl — won’t be leaving for the foreseeable future.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt’s third season begins with significantly fewer pressing questions on the field than his first two training camps. A Super Bowl appearance and returning core group are the reason, and though the Cardinals are considered slight favorites in what should be an improved NFC West, there still are 10 of at least a dozen stones waiting to be unearthed.

1. How will the Cardinals handle expectations?

Among players, only Kurt Warner, special-teams ace Sean Morey and linebackers Clark Hagans (injured) and Matt Ware had Super Bowl experience before Feb. 1 in Tampa. The Cardinals seemed to thrive as underdogs during their magical postseason run, but beware the Super Bowl hangover: Since 2000, Super Bowl participants were a combined 207-63 (.767) during that year’s regular season and playoffs. The next season, those same teams went a combined 141-115 (.551). Even worse: Seattle in 2006-07 is the only team this decade to reach the playoffs a year after losing the Super Bowl.

2. Will anyone raise another contract stink?

Unlikely. Anquan Boldin popped off last year at the start of training camp, but — true to his word — it never became a locker room issue the rest of the season. Boldin will be grilled about his contract status again (he has two seasons left on his deal), but in theory, there’s not much left for him or the team to say, nor would it help his cause. The same could be said for Karlos Dansby — who will be a free agent after this season but could still negotiate an extension with the team and sign after the regular season — or Darnell Dockett. Given his vociferous nature and honesty, Dockett seems to be the most likely to cause a stir, but his deal runs through 2011, and after missing a couple minicamps and OTA’s, his Twitter page said he’s ready to play.

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