Cards-‘Cats kickoff tonight at 8:15/Carolina Panthers-Arizona Cardinals pre-game

January 10, 2009
FOX @ 8:15 PM EST
Arizona at Carolina
Bank of America Stadium

Full details on tonight’s game are right here:

The excitement over the playoffs is like gravy — so thick it can be tasted. But the meat and potatoes of the moment is the divisional-playoff game itself between the Panthers and Arizona Cardinals, with kickoff set for 8:15 p.m. EST Saturday night. “I’m sure there’ll be some added emotion there, but when the dust settles, it’s just another game,” tight end Jeff King said. “You go out, you make plays. It’s football. We’ve played it all of our lives.”

Inside the foxhole with Coach John Fox:

On injuries: Limited participation: Jeff Hangartner (ankle). Full participation: Maake Kemoeatu (ankle), Damione Lewis (shoulder) and Jeff Otah (toe).

On what the game between the Panthers and Cardinals will come down to: At the end of the day it’s kind of like the Elite Eight in the NCAA Basketball (Tournament) or the Final Four. You can’t have a bad day, so you’ve got to be on your game. The team that is going to get the hottest and execute the best usually wins. So that’s what we’ve primed ourselves for and now we have to go perform.

On how Carolina’s personnel groups were affected when Arizona spread the field with four and five wide receiver packages during their regular season game: Like any game, they always take on their own personality. In that game two of their three tight ends were inactive, so they only had one tight end available that day. Those are things that you don’t know until game day or an hour and a half before kickoff. From a preparation standpoint, obviously, we probably didn’t prepare as much for that as we have this time around. Like everything, you’ve got to adjust and we adjusted just well enough to win. Hopefully, this time around we’re a little better prepared.

On if it is a benefit having playing several passing-oriented offenses like Denver and New Orleans this season: Yeah, and this game could take on that personality, too. I don’t know. Like I’ve mentioned all week, it’s their ball and they get to do what they want. That’s just not predicated to them; that’s really anybody you play. As I mentioned earlier, it’s just being prepared for as much of the things we think they are going to show us, and, hopefully, we’ve done that.

On how Arizona’s offense changes if wide receiver Anquan Boldin does not play: I don’t think it’s going to change them. They’ll have (number) 85 (Jerheme) Urban take his place and then (Early) Doucet, number 80, will take Urban’s place. Whether he plays or not, we won’t know for sure until an hour and a half before kickoff.

On the importance of having defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu back considering what the Cardinals are trying to do in the running game: It’s not just Kemo; it’s Damione Lewis. We had neither one of them the last time we played (at New Orleans). If you took Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith out of the lineup on offense it would look a little different. It’s no different on defense when you take your two starting defensive tackles out. Hopefully, they’re prepared and ready.

On if Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner has the quickest release of any quarterback in the NFL: I believe so, and a lot of it is decision making. It’s playing fast and seeing things quickly and making the proper decision, and I think he’s proven over time he’s as good as most people or as good as anybody has been at that, whether it was with St. Louis or now with Arizona.

On the job offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson has done this season: It comes down to players. Jeff has done a great job; our whole offensive staff has done an excellent job – Jim Skipper, our running backs coach, Dave Magazu with the offensive line. I think we’ve had more on the menu than a year ago. I don’t think a year ago was a fair measure when you are going through a kaleidoscope of quarterbacks.