Sunday, August 28, 2011
Three things revisited: Cardinals-Chargers
By Mike Sando
Looking back on three things discussed here before the Arizona Cardinals' 34-31 preseason defeat against the San Diego Chargers on Saturday night:
1. Beanie Wells' health: The Cardinals' third-year running back provided healthy production while avoiding an injury Arizona could not afford at the position. Wells, who suffered a knee injury during an Aug. 28 preseason game at Chicago last season, played with obvious passion while carrying 10 times for 63 yards. He had one reception for five yards. Wells flipped the ball to receiver Andre Roberts on a reverse that produced a 34-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. At that point, it was clear the Cardinals were playing to win. Wells embraced the approach. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, courtesy of the Cardinals: "We didn’t get as many opportunities to run it as we would like, but I thought he ran physical. He did a good job in protection."
2. O'Brien Schofield's encore: The second-year pass-rusher showed up on special teams early in the game. Whatever else he accomplished on this night -- that was Schofield skidding past Billy Volek in the fourth quarter, forcing the Chargers' veteran backup to step forward in the pocket -- became a largely forgotten footnote. First-round draft choice Patrick Peterson was the young defender commanding the most attention for Arizona. His 34-yard interception return for a touchdown off Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers gave Arizona a 17-3 lead. Peterson gave Arizona all the evidence it needed to move him into the starting lineup sooner rather than later. Fellow corner Greg Toler left with a leg injury. A.J. Jefferson made a strong breakup on a third-down pass. Whisenhunt on Peterson: "They attacked him a little bit toward the end of the first half. He’s a young guy, still trying to understand the scheme of our defense. There’s no question, he saw the ball coming and made a good play, and then he showed that explosive speed."
3. Kevin Kolb's home debut: The Cardinals played like a team eager to give fans something to get excited about, particularly at quarterback. Kolb's deep pass to Larry Fitzgerald for an 80-yard touchdown gave Arizona's first-team offense a touchdown for the first time during the 2011 preseason. Kolb impressed while moving and throwing to beat pressure early in the game, including once when he found tight end Todd Heap. But he also took a few hits as the Cardinals' protection faltered in the second half. Kolb completed 11 of 20 passes for 205 yards, one touchdown and a 107.3 passer rating. For those wondering, we have not been computing QBR for preseason games. The new stat takes into account game situations, which do not matter so much in these games.