Hightower is due for an 80-yard touchdown run every now & then
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sebastian Janikowski’s missed game-winning field goal is a very close runner up. 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.