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Concentration in One Area Is Bound to Hurt the Cardinals

Wednesday, September 8, 2004; Page H13

The Cardinals gave up 417 points in 2002, then used their two first-round draft picks on wide receivers. They gave up 452 points last year, then used their first-round pick on a wide receiver.

Those are what pass for smart decisions in this parsimonious organization, which has a visitors' locker room that is actually a trailer bolted to a parking lot at Sun Devil Stadium.

Maybe the Cardinals are drafting for offense to fill their 73,000-seat stadium. They have played 112 games there since moving from St. Louis in 1988; 70 times they've drawn less than 50,000.

Four crowds last year didn't get above 25,000. Come on -- Arizona State has fraternities that draw more than that to their parties.

Enter first-year coach Dennis Green. He says the team will finish 10-6, which is probably just more blather geared toward ticket sales.

It certainly doesn't seem a likely outcome. Not with star Anquan Boldin (101 catches) out until at least October with a knee injury. Bryant Johnson (35 receptions) and acrobatic rookie Larry Fitzgerald also missed time in the preseason with foot and ankle injuries, respectively. They are the three aforementioned wide receivers.

"We don't have the full complement of players that we wanted to have or that we will have," Green said in a news conference in August. "I don't know if you took the Indianapolis Colts without their top three receivers and expect them to be as effective and Manning an MVP, I seriously doubt it."

True, but the Colts also have these things called defense and special teams. Arizona counters with defensive tackle Kenny King, who was expected to start. He took four months off following surgery on his right wrist this past offseason, only for the team to realize he needed the surgery again.

He will miss the season. He won't be missing much.

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