Saturday, August 22, 2009
What to watch in Cardinals' exhibition game
By Mike Sando
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Cardinals play their exhibition home opener against the Chargers in a 10 p.m. ET kickoff from University of Phoenix Stadium. A few things I'd like to see:
NFL Network is replaying the Cardinals-Chargers game at 1:30 a.m. ET. I'll take a closer look at the game on replay. Anything you'll be watching to see? LaRod Stephens-Howling is another player to watch for Arizona.
- The backup quarterbacks. Matt Leinart fared better than Brian St. Pierre in the first exhibition game. He can tighten his hold on the No. 2 job behind Kurt Warner. Fourth-stringer Tyler Palko looks like an exciting prospect, but he has virtually no shot at earning a roster spot in Arizona.
- First-round choice Beanie Wells. The rookie running back could make his exhibition debut. He probably will not play extensively, but let's see what he does when he's in the game and how he holds up physically.
- Backup receivers. Early Doucet has moved past a shoulder injury, but he hasn't yet validated his status as a third-round choice in 2008. The Cardinals don't really need him after Steve Breaston developed into a solid third option, but they would like to know Doucet can step up if a need does arise. Lance Long and Onrea Jones might also be fighting for a roster spot. Veteran Sean Morey's prowess on special teams might set him apart from the other receivers fighting for roster spots.
- Rookie tackle Herman Johnson. He impressed against the Steelers last week. Another strong showing at tackle in a backup role would be welcome for Arizona. Depth at offensive tackle is a luxury in the NFL. Johnson is 380 pounds. His continued development -- as a tackle, not a plodding guard -- could help this team long term. The Cardinals will become more of a power team once Kurt Warner retires in a couple of years.
- The pass rush. The Cardinals know what Chike Okeafor, Darnell Dockett, Bertrand Berry, Adrian Wilson and Clark Haggans offer in terms of getting after quarterbacks. They would like rookie Cody Brown to provide an emerging option in that area.