Thursday, September 1, 2011
Three things: Cardinals-Broncos
By Mike Sando
Three things to watch for in the Arizona Cardinals' preseason home game against the Denver Broncos at 10 p.m. ET:
1. Patrick Peterson's impact: The Cardinals' first-round draft choice returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown in Arizona's most recent exhibition game. He slipped twice on another play, allowing a big gain. Sometimes it's tough to tell how players in the secondary are faring, particularly when watching on TV. Depending on the coverage, someone unfamiliar with the team's playbook will have a hard time saying with much certainty whether a cornerback handled his responsibilities correctly. Sometimes, a safety is to blame when a cornerback appears most culpable. Big plays are tough to miss, however.
2. Quarterback depth: Backups John Skelton (ankle) and Max Hall (shoulder) will not play. Hall is out for the season. The Cardinals will be happy at the position as long as starter Kevin Kolb remains healthy. But depth is a concern. Rich Bartel figures to play more extensively against the Broncos. He has improved his standing this summer and could be a candidate to unseat Skelton for the No. 2 role. The Broncos are coming off a strong pass-rushing game against Seattle. How well will the Cardinals' quarterbacks hold up?
3. Young pass-rushers. The Cardinals went into the 2011 draft thinking they might have a shot at pass-rusher Von Miller. That shot went away quickly when the Broncos made Miller the second overall choice. The Cardinals didn't value any of the other college pass-rushers enough to draft them fifth overall. As a result, Arizona is heading into its final game of the preseason trying to develop young pass-rushers with less impressive pedigrees. Second-year outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield is one of those younger prospects. Schofield has one of the Cardinals' six sacks in three exhibition games.