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Cardinals’ First Quarter of the Season Awards

Steve Breaston's forced fumble in Week 1 and Sebastian Janikowski's missed game-winning field goal in Week 3 are the two biggest plays of the season so far

The Cardinals’ are obviously one quarter of the way through the 2010 season.  Time to give out some awards.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE FIRST QUARTER: RB, Tim Hightower

I bet you thought I was going to say Max Hall.  Although Hightower’s production has slowed as of late, it’s really only because he hasn’t been getting enough carries.  After a dubious two fumble (he hasn’t fumbled since) opener against the Rams, Tim has provided steady production.  He’s gained 239 yards on 43 carries for a very nice 5.2 yards per carry with 2 rushing touchdowns.  Hightower has also reeled in 7 receptions for 49 yards.  Once the offense establishes some consistency and confidence, I expect Hightower to build upon his early season success.

  • Honorable Mention: WR, Steve Breaston.  Before Breaston injured his knee he was well on his way to providing ample production in Anquan Boldin’s stead, which has taken away at least one thing that the Cardinals may have had to worry about.  Breaston should continue to produce once he gets back into the lineup, presumably against Seattle.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE FIRST QUARTER: LB, Paris Lenon

What a pleasant surprise.  I don’t think anyone expected Lenon to produce the way he has thus far.  He’s absolutely the general on the defense as he calls the plays and pretty much has anchored this unit.  He leads the team in tackling with 35 solo and 8 assists.  Lenon also tallied 1 sack, 2 INTs, 4 tackles for a loss, and 4 passes defended.  The Cardinals could not have asked for more from Lenon thus far.

  • Honorable Mention: FS, Kerry Rhodes.  Rhodes could very well take the top spot in this category, but I think Paris Lenon wins out because Lenon is just a feel good story.  Rhodes, however, has allayed the Cardinals’ fear that they lost big-play production when Rolle bailed.  Kerry has provided solid coverage, blitzing options, he has an interception, and of course, two fumble recoveries for two defensive touchdowns.  Arizona could not ask for more from the Rolle “replacement.”

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE FIRST QUARTER: RB, LaRod Stephens-Howling

Hyphen has been an invaluable asset on special teams.  He single handedly eased Max Hall’s burden last week by providing excellent field position on kick-off returns, something he’s been doing all season.  Stephens-Howling has returned 22 kick-offs for a combined 579 yards, which makes for a very impressive 26.3 average.  Let’s not forget his 102-yard return for a touchdown or the fact that he had another touchdown called back against Atlanta for holding.  LaRod Stephens-Howling, a seventh-round draft pick, has become a serious weapon for the Cardinals.

  • Honorable Mention:  K, Jay Feely.  Feely has quietly had a great season so far.  He’s 6/7 in field goals with his only miss coming outside of 50 yards.  In addition, Feely is getting great distance on his kick-offs, something Neil Rackers failed to do his last two years in Arizona.

PLAY OF THE FIRST QUARTER: Steve Breaston’s forced fumble in St. Louis

Derek Anderson fumbled the ball after getting dropped.  Rams’ DT Clifton Ryan scooped it up and rumbled down the field all the way to the 1-yard line.  Breaston, however, didn’t resign to watch the Rams stretch their lead to 20-10.  The number two receiver chased Ryan down and stripped the ball allowing Lyle Sendlein to fall on it in the endzone for a game saving touchback.  Without Breaston hustle, the Cardinals almost certainly would have lost in St. Louis, which needless to say would have been devastating.  A loss to the Rams and then total annihilation against Atlanta would have meant starting the season 0-2.

  • Honorable Mention: Sebastian Janikowski’s missed game-winning field goal.  Honestly, I would have given the honor to Janikowski, but I don’t think the award should go to a non-Cardinal.  The Cardinals so desperately needed that win at home.  We can’t be sure yet, but I think when Week 17 wraps up, the Cardinals may be looking back at Janikowski’s missed field goal thinking, “Whew, thankfully we stole that win.”

BIGGEST UNDERACHIEVER OF THE FIRST QUARTER: DE, Calais Campbell

A dubious award, no doubt.  Everyone expected great things out of Campbell from the start of this year.  He’s just not getting to the quarterback.  He’s been relatively invisible the last few weeks and isn’t even applying pressure.  He’s compiled only 1 sack thus far and hasn’t really put a good game together through five weeks.  If Calais continues at this pace, he’ll end up with a dismal 3.2 sacks per 16 games for the 2010 season.

  • Dishonorable Mention: LB, Joey Porter.  No big plays, only 1 sack, no consistent QB pressure, and he’s not even getting to the ball to help out on tackling.  Porter’s been a thorough disappointment so far this season.  There’s still two-thirds of a season left to make up for a slow start, though.

The Cardinals are no doubt hoping that Joey Porter will recover from a slow start to the 2010 season


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2 Responses to “Cardinals’ First Quarter of the Season Awards”

  1. Mike Ellingboe says:

    Will,

    Great article, no disagreements with your choices. How about adding the biggest “suprise” player? One nomination for Alan Branch.

  2. Will Brodsky says:

    Mike,

    Thanks.

    I agree that Branch would be a likely choice for that award.

    We’ll have to add that category for the half way awards.

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