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Tuesday, October 12, 2010
NFC West High Energy Player of the Week

By Mike Sando

NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 5.

The Arizona Cardinals tried to re-sign Antrel Rolle because they feared losing an ascending safety with such obvious playmaking ability.

Kerry Rhodes
Kerry Rhodes has scored a touchdown in each of the Cardinals' past two games.
Rolle had picked off 10 passes and returned four of them for touchdowns during his final three seasons with Arizona. He earned a Pro Bowl trip as an injury replacement last season; not bad for a player still getting comfortable at safety after entering the NFL as a cornerback.

When Rolle bolted for the New York Giants, the Cardinals settled for Kerry Rhodes. That was the perception, anyway. Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett put public pressure on Rhodes to pick up where Rolle left off.

With fumble returns for touchdowns in each of the past two games, Rhodes has shown the big-play flair that helped Rolle cash in on the open market. He's changing perceptions about what the Cardinals might have lost when they couldn't find a way to keep Rolle.

"He's made a lot of big plays for us," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday.

Rolle, as a converted cornerback, was naturally more fluid than Rhodes. Rhodes makes the Cardinals bigger in their secondary, however. He and strong safety Adrian Wilson are both 6-foot-3.

"He has a good mix with Adrian as far as communication and he is playing a lot of different roles, whether it's the deep safety, whether it's blitzing, whether it's playing man coverage," Whisenhunt said. "He made a couple of good plays [Sunday] in man coverage. A lot of the things Kerry was advertised as being, he has shown that to us and that has been a big benefit."

Rhodes' stock with the New York Jets had fallen, so he was available by trade. The Cardinals acquired him for a 2010 fourth-round draft choice and a 2011 seventh-rounder. Arizona's defense played much better against New Orleans than it had during blowout defeats to the Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers.

"I have faith in Rhodes," said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. "I'm not saying he will ever be great, but I still see him as a fine complement to Wilson. He is very capable deep in coverage. The secondary (or defense) hasn't played well around him, but the real weak spot of that group to me is at linebacker, specifically outside linebacker. Joey Porter and that crew don't scare anyone from a pass-rush standpoint."