- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Looking back on three things discussed here before Arizona's preseason home opener Friday night against Oakland, a game the Cardinals led at halftime 24-11 when I filed this entry, and eventually won 31-27:
1. Ticking QB clock. Kevin Kolb and John Skelton led first-half touchdown drives on short fields. Kolb completed a pass for a third-down conversion on the opening drive. He held the ball too long on subsequent drives. Pressure was a problem as well. Kolb did not handle it well. He took a penalty for intentional grounding at the Arizona 1-yard line, then got sacked for a safety on the next play. Oakland defensive lineman Tommy Kelly ran off the field and yelled of Kolb, “That boy’s scared,” according to the Raiders’ preseason TV coverage. Kolb completed 3 of 6 passes for 22 yards.
Skelton completed all three pass attempts for 23 yards on his only meaningful first-half drive, the final one for a touchdown to fullback Anthony Sherman.
Rookie Ryan Lindley opened the second half as the Cardinals' quarterback. Skelton hardly played as a result, leaving the impression coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn't looking for additional information on his top two passers. By then, the Cardinals had also lost left tackle Levi Brown to a triceps injury, raising additional questions about the offensive line. Pass protection was already an issue.
Skelton would appear to have the edge in this competition, in my view. Two exhibition games remain, however.
2. RB health. Ryan Williams played in a game for the first time since suffering a torn patella during the preseason 364 days earlier. This was a promising performance for Williams. He carried five times for 25 yards and a touchdown, with a long run of 15 yards. Alfonso Smith took over from there. Starter Beanie Wells, back at practice recently after undergoing offseason knee surgery, did not play.
3. Outside pass-rush. Outside linebacker Quentin Groves was the player I had in mind, but the Cardinals got most of their pressure up the middle, at least in the first half. Defensive end Darnell Dockett drew a penalty for hitting Carson Palmer in the legs. Nose tackle David Carter got pressure to force an incomplete pass near the goal line. Reggie Walker and Stewart Bradley got pressure on inside blitzes. I’ll check out the second half and report back Saturday if warranted.