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The Arizona Republic - - FRONT PAGE - KENT SOMERS

The Car­di­nals are look­ing for their first win of the sea­son to­day against the Colts.

INDIANAPOLIS – Af­ter they opened the sea­son with a 35-23 loss in Detroit last Sun­day, sev­eral Car­di­nals noted that it was only one game and 15 more re­mained.

That an­a­lytic is un­de­ni­able, but so is this: There are only 16 games, which makes slow starts hard to over­come. The Car­di­nals went through that last year, los­ing three of their first four and fin­ish­ing 7-8-1.

“I feel like they’re all ‘must-wins',” re­ceiver Larry Fitzger­ald said. “It’s not a base­ball sched­ule. We only got one a week, 16 of them sched­uled, and you’ve got to try to win as many of those as you can to put your­self in po­si­tion.”

An 0-1 record is only one of the Car­di­nals’ con­cerns en­ter­ing Sun­day’s game against the Colts. Run­ning back David John­son suf­fered a dis­lo­cated left wrist against the Lions and is ex­pected to miss two to three months. Left tackle D.J. Humphries is out with a sprained knee. Left guard Mike Iu­pati, re­ceiver John Brown and tight end Jer­maine Gre­sham all might not play be­cause of in­juries. And quar­ter­back Car­son Palmer is com­ing off one of his worst games since join­ing the Car­di­nals in 2013.

The Colts (0-1) are even worse off. Five starters, in­clud­ing quar­ter­back An­drew Luck, are out with in­juries. And they were blown out last week by the Rams, who won four games a year ago.

No won­der Colts coach Chuck Pagano joked ear­lier this week "the foot­ball crap will kill you.”

Told of his close friend’s com­ment, Ari­ans laughed, say­ing: “Ex­actly. You build a whole foot­ball team, and you get all set up, and then you lose four starters. For them, I think it was early. For us, it was last Sun­day. So with that stuff, it’s like, ‘OK. Re­group.’ Sooner or later, that wears on you.”

The Car­di­nals looked aw­ful against the Lions even be­fore they suf­fered in­juries. Palmer wasn’t the only one who played poorly, but no one was worse.

He com­pleted 27 of 48 passes but just 10 of his first 24. He had three passes in­ter­cepted, one of which was re­turned for a touch­down.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the game, Palmer said he was ea­ger to re­turn to work and purge the dis­ap­point­ment. This week, he prac­ticed on a Wed­nes­day for the first time since mid­sea­son of last year, al­though Ari­ans said Palmer’s work week was sched­uled two months ago.

“Any time you lose, I al­ways feel like that,” Palmer said. “Whether you’re sore, beat up or tired, or what­ever the case is, you just can’t wait to play again. I’ve been feel­ing like that since Sun­day night.”

In Detroit, no one was able to com­pen­sate for Palmer’s poor play. There were a cou­ple of dropped passes, the Car­di­nals av­er­aged 2.5 yards per rush, and the de­fense gave up three touch­downs in the fi­nal 18 min­utes.

With John­son out, they have to re­con­fig­ure the of­fense. Run­ning back Ker­wynn Wil­liams is ex­pected to make the first start of his ca­reer, but An­dre Elling­ton and Chris John­son are ex­pected to play, too.

“We won a lot of games be­fore David got here,” of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Harold Good­win said. “We’re go­ing to con­tinue to win games with­out David be­ing out there. It’s a com­mit­tee. I don’t care who runs it. I just want four yards or more.”

The Car­di­nals will find no sym­pa­thetic ears in this town. Last week, the Colts looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL. They re­port­edly are mak­ing a change at quar­ter­back, with Ja­coby Bris­sett re­plac­ing Scott Tolzien. Bris­sett has been with Colts for only two weeks.

Backup quar­ter­backs have been suc­cess­ful against the Car­di­nals in re­cent years. Last year, the Pa­tri­ots won in Glen­dale with Jimmy Garop­polo start­ing. In 2015, the Steel­ers beat the Car­di­nals with Michael Vick and Landry Jones at quar­ter­back.

“We want to make sure that we’re go­ing in there pre­par­ing as if An­drew Luck is play­ing,” cor­ner­back Pa­trick Peterson said. “We want to make sure we pre­pare to give this quar­ter­back our best shot, be­cause at the end of the day, he’s an NFL quar­ter­back. He’s still able to make those throws.”


Car­di­nals wide re­ceiver Larry Fitzger­ald says Sun­day’s game against the Colts in Indianapolis is a must win, but he be­lieves that about all NFL games.

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