Friday, August 19, 2011
Three things: Cardinals-Packers
By Mike Sando
Three things to watch for in the Arizona Cardinals' Week 2 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET:
1. Pass-rush inflation: The Cardinals eagerly await a breakout pass-rushing performance from one of their younger players, notably rookie Sam Acho or second-year pro O'Brien Schofield. If it happens, great for Arizona, but let's see how many come at Aaron Rodgers' expense. Rodgers took zero sacks against Cleveland in the Packers' preseason opener. He left the game with a glittering stat line: 6-of-8 passing for 74 yards, one touchdown and a 142.7 passer rating. Backups Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell combined to take five sacks once Rodgers left the game. Side note on preseason sacks: Carolina led the NFL with 19 last preseason. The Panthers had only 31 during the regular season, which ranked tied for 20th. DeMarcus Ware, the NFL's leader in sacks with 15.5 last season, had one-half sack in four preseason games.
2. Running back ball security. Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams both lost the football after being ruled down in the Cardinals' preseason opener. Fumbling has been a touchy subject in Arizona over the last couple of seasons. Tim Hightower, since traded, fumbled 10 times over the last two seasons, tied with Ahmad Bradshaw for most in the league. Wells fumbled five times during that span, tied for eighth-most among players with fewer than 300 rushing attempts since 2009 (fumble totals count those on receptions). This is a subject the Cardinals do not need to revisit anytime soon.
3. Kevin Kolb affirmations. The Cardinals' new quarterback has been "solid" and even a "godsend" for Arizona during his first two weeks practicing with the team. Anything less than a stellar performance from Kolb against Green Bay will be ... well, pretty much irrelevant, this being preseason. Once again, let's watch to see how well the Cardinals protect him. That matters most at this point. The Packers sacked Kurt Warner twice, forcing fumbles both times, during a 2009 preseason game between the teams. They knocked out Kolb with a concussion during the 2010 regular-season opener.