NFL notebook

Cardinals hand the ball to Hall

Associated Press / October 7, 2010

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Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has put his team’s struggling offense into the hands of undrafted rookie quarterback Max Hall.

Whisenhunt announced after yesterday’s practice that the former Brigham Young standout would make his first NFL start Sunday when the Cardinals are home against the Super Bowl champion Saints, replacing the erratic Derek Anderson.

Hall is Arizona’s third starting quarterback since training camp opened.

Anderson replaced Matt Leinart in the third preseason game. That led to Leinart’s release and left Hall as Anderson’s backup.

The strong-armed Anderson, signed by Arizona as a free agent after he was released by Cleveland, was benched after throwing two first-half interceptions in last Sunday’s 41-10 loss at San Diego. Hall came on to complete 8 of 14 passes for 82 yards without an interception but was sacked six times.

“I think Max certainly feels he’s ready for it,’’ Whisenhunt said. “I mean, he’s a confident young man. He’s been that way since he’s been here. He’s made progress. He believes in himself and carries himself with that confidence. I know that he wanted to play. I don’t think that’s ever been a question.’’

The Cardinals are tied for the NFC West lead at 2-2, but have been outscored, 82-17, in their two losses.

“Hopefully we’ll make some more plays, be a little more efficient offensively,’’ Whisenhunt said. “I think that one of the areas we need to improve in is just making the plays that are there. That’s what we’ve missed on.’’

Hall said he’s not looking at this as a one-week audition for the job.

“I’m just going forward like it’s mine,’’ he said. “That’s the mind-set that you have to have. They’re putting everything into me. The game plan and everything is going toward my strengths, so I’m moving forward like it’s mine.’’

Portis out a month
Clinton Portis will be out at least a month with a groin injury, putting the two-time Pro Bowl running back’s future in doubt.

His injury leaves the Redskins with a very inexperienced backfield, too.

Coach Mike Shanahan said that Portis has a third-degree separation of the left groin, with the muscle separated off the bone. Portis will not require surgery, and the coach estimated a recovery time of 4-6 weeks.

“That’s disappointing,’’ Shanahan said, “that working so hard, playing so well, that he’s got that setback.’’

Portis was hurt in last Sunday’s 17-12 win over the Eagles, when he was already starting to share more of the rushing load with Ryan Torain. Now the only two healthy tailbacks on the roster are Torain and Chad Simpson, who have combined for 70 carries in their NFL careers heading into this week’s game against the Packers.

Cutler practices
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was back practicing on a limited basis after a brutal loss to the Giants last Sunday in which he got sacked nine times in the first half and left with a concussion. Cutler’s status for this week’s game at Carolina is unclear. League guidelines say he should get clearance from an “independent neurological consultant’’ before playing again. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz said Todd Collins, who also left the game, with a stinger, would start if Cutler is not available . . . Lions coach Jim Schwartz said quarterback Matthew Stafford is still not healthy enough to play, so Shaun Hill will start Sunday at home against the Rams. Stafford hasn’t played since he injured his right shoulder in the season opener at Chicago . . . Raiders defensive tackle John Henderson could be sidelined for more than a month with a stress fracture in his right foot . . . Tracy Porter will be out 3-4 weeks after arthroscopic surgery to repair the lateral meniscus in his left knee, leaving the Saints without one of their starting cornerbacks . . . Browns rookie safety T.J. Ward was fined $15,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley last Sunday . . . The Browns acquired defensive end Jayme Mitchell from the Vikings for an undisclosed 2012 draft pick. Mitchell played in 29 regular-season games for Minnesota, which signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2006.

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