Saturday, August 17, 2013
Three things: Cowboys-Cardinals
By Mike Sando
Three things to watch for Saturday in the Arizona Cardinals' second exhibition game of the 2013 season, set for 4:30 p.m. ET at home against the Dallas Cowboys
1. Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders. Neither is going to play in this game, of course, but with Cardinals general manager Steve Keim invoking them to describe third-year cornerback Patrick Peterson, we'll be watching to see whether Peterson gets snaps at wide receiver. Peterson has impressed the Cardinals in that role in training camp. The team sounds serious about using him in that capacity in the regular season. If Peterson is going to be part of the receiver rotation, why wouldn't he play wideout in the preseason?
2. Rookie free safety. Third-round choice Tyrann Mathieu gets the start at free safety while Rashad Johnson recovers from injury. Mathieu collected a sack and aggressively defended a pass in his preseason debut against Green Bay. The Cardinals have called him one of the more dynamic players in camp to this point. Now, Mathieu gets a chance to work with the starters. Will he play the roughly 20 snaps coach Bruce Arians said he plans to allot for the first group? Or might he stay in the game longer as a rookie in need of reps?
3. The home crowd. Fans around the NFL often sell or give away their preseason tickets, making it tougher to capture the desired home-field feel. Having a broadly popular team such as the Cowboys coming to town could further dilute the home contingent. Still, new coach Arians has stressed the importance of re-establishing dominance at home. This is the first home game of any kind on his watch. It's got to feel a little special for him. Will the Cardinals give the home crowd reason to come back for more?