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Tomlin sees 'spectacular' in Cardinals' stars

| Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009

Mike Tomlin found no shortage of superlatives in describing the Arizona Cardinals as a "dangerous opponent" because of its abundance of offensive playmakers. But he kept coming back to one: spectacular.

The Steelers coach said the Cardinals' success starts with quarterback Kurt Warner, a former Super Bowl MVP who has revived his career since supplanting former first-round pick Matt Leinart as the starter.

Warner has passed for 4,583 yards with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this season, completing 66.3 percent of his passes in the playoffs.

"He's the same Kurt Warner he's always been," Tomlin said. "He makes quick decisions. He doesn't make mistakes. He absolutely tortures you when he recognizes pressure and gets the ball out of his hands."

It doesn't hurt that Warner has three 1,000-yard receivers at his disposal in Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, a North Braddock native and Woodland Hills High product. Tomlin had high praise for Fitzgerald, who has posted three consecutive 100-yard games.

"Larry Fitzgerald is, quite simply, the best in the world down the field in one-on-one situations," Tomlin said. "If we're going to be successful in Tampa, we need to limit the number of times we're downfield with him one-on-one because, invariably, he's going to come up with the football."

What has impressed Tomlin the most, however, is the way Edgerrin James is running in the playoffs. James has 203 yards on 52 carries.

"I think the thing that's been most impressive about them in January, offensively, is Edgerrin James and what they're doing with him," Tomlin said. "He's really making them a very dangerous outfit."

Sweed's deed

Tomlin declined to share his conversation with receiver Limas Sweed after the rookie second-round draft pick dropped a potential touchdown pass late in the first half of the AFC Championship Game this past Sunday.

"More important than anything else," Tomlin said, "because I can't remember."

Tomlin made it clear that while he admires Sweed's work ethic and desire to improve, he considers such a play unacceptable with the Steelers advancing to Super Bowl XLIII.

"He's a young guy that has a desire to help us win. His actions on a day-to-day basis in this facility indicate that," Tomlin said. "Sometimes, he fails. He fails inside stadiums. That's part of being a young guy. But we're in January; it's time for young guys to grow up.

"Hopefully, he falls into that category. Hopefully, some of those things that happened after that drop are an indication of the direction in which he's headed, because we're going to need contributions from everyone in order to come back with the Lombardi Trophy."

Injury issues

Tomlin said the week off will allow the Steelers time to rest a handful of players with a variety of sprains and strains this week.

The majority of injuries are on offense. Aside from receiver Hines Ward (sprained knee) and running back Mewelde Moore (sprained ankle), the wear and tear of the playoffs has taken a toll on the offensive line.

Right guard Darnell Stapleton (ankle), center Justin Hartwig (knee) and left tackle Max Starks (knee) all could be given a day or two off from practice.

The lone defensive player on the injury list is outside linebacker/special teamer Patrick Bailey, who will be limited by a knee sprain.

"It's important that we recognize that we've got two full weeks to prepare for this football game," Tomlin said. "There's some above-the-neck preparation that we'll continue big. There's some below-the-neck preparation that some guys need. If their bodies can benefit from a day or two, we're going to provide them that in an effort to be at our best in two Sundays, as we get ready to go down to Tampa."

Additional Information:

Super Bowl reference

The rosters: Steelers and Cardinals

The numbers: Steelers and Cardinals

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