The status of Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin remains uncertain for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Boldin injured a hamstring in the wild-card victory over Atlanta and did not play against Carolina after attempting to warm up.
"We’ll see," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhut said. "Obviously we’re a week further along in the process of that hamstring getting better, so hopefully he’ll be able to do something this week – but we’ll see as the week progresses."
Tight end Stephen Spach, who began his career with the Eagles, tore an ACL against Carolina and is done for the season. Whisenhut said the Cardinals would add another tight end because they only have two on the roster, both battling injuries themselves: Leonard Pope (sore ankle) and Ben Patrick (knee).
“He has done a good job for us in the running game, but it isn’t going to change our scheme," Whisenhut said of Spach's absence. "I think we’re very comfortable with Ben and with Leonard in doing what we’ve been doing. They’re healthier now than they were at times this year when we struggled – so it shouldn’t be a big issue.”
As was the case with Andy Reid earlier, the mantle of the underdog is also on Whisenhut's mind, even though his team is the higher seed and playing at home. The Birds will be the betting-line choice.
“We’re still underdogs at home in the NFC Championship Game, so once again I think we can keep our focus," he said. "We just have to keep our heads down and working the way we’ve been working. The one thing that’s really exciting for us is that we get to do it in front of a home crowd and ultimately that’s what you want. That’s why you try to get homefield advantage in the regular season so you get a playoff game at home and that’s big. We saw a definite factor in the Atlanta game and I’m excited about it being a factor in the championship game.”
Whisenhut addressed a number of other issues in his meeting with the media Monday:
On if he’s surprised to make it to the NFC Championship in his second year:
“I’m not surprised – that was the plan. That’s why you do it. Obviously, three or four weeks ago when our team wasn’t playing as well as it could, it was difficult and there were a lot of people taking shots at us and they’re still taking shots at us – which is fine. I felt, even going back into camp that we had a good core group of guys and it was going to be a process we had to go through. And that’s the great thing about the playoffs – you get in and you never know what can happen. We’re very excited to be here, but I think that we’ve shown at times this year that we’re a team capable of playing at that level.”
On preparing for a championship game:
“You have to handle dealing with distractions. You also have to handle not getting too big for your britches. When the 32-team field is cut down to four teams and all that attention comes to you, a lot of times guys start thinking they’re a little better than they are and maybe losing the work ethic that got them to that point.
On the Thanksgiving game against the Eagles:
“I was going to try and keep that out of my mind. We came off a physical game against the Giants and were on a short week. To play the Giants on Sunday afternoon and then to essentially leave on Wednesday to play a Thursday night game is very difficult, especially against an opponent you don’t know anything about. A lot of times when that happens, you’re playing against a division opponent or someone in your geographical area where it’s not so difficult. We didn’t handle that very well at all and give Philadelphia credit – they put it to us on every level and in every phase of the game they played very well. It’s tough to watch the tape now, but the one thing that’s comforting is that we’re a different team now then the one that played that game. Hopefully since it’s at home and with our fans, we’ll have a better chance.”
To read our earlier posts ...
What Andy Said, What Andy Meant
Reid: Arizona is a different team