NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 4 CIN at ARI W2W4

W2W4: Arizona Cardinals

August, 24, 2014
Aug 24
The Arizona Cardinals (1-1) and Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) play their all-important third preseason game Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” Here are three things to keep an eye on:
  • How the defensive line will adapt in its first game without Darnell Dockett will be telling, especially since the starters will be playing about a half Sunday. If veteran Frostee Rucker can slide into Darnell’s spot seamlessly and keep the Cardinals’ run defense at the level it was at last year, a deep sigh of relief can be exhaled. If the Bengals run through the Cards’ line, then it’s time to possibly be concerned because the starters will likely have Thursday against San Diego off, meaning the next time the defensive line will have a chance to play against a live offense will be in Week 1 on “Monday Night Football” in front of a national audience.
  • While Jonathan Cooper continues to rest his turf toe injury, Ted Larsen will be next up to compete for the starting left guard job. He left a good impression with coaches after filling in for center Lyle Sendlein for the past three weeks, but the question becomes: Can he slide over one spot and continue to perform at that high level? With Larsen being the third starting left guard of the preseason, he’s in a position to solidify the starting offensive line with a productive outing. Cooper may not see any action Sunday, which means he’ll have Thursday’s preseason finale as the only other chance for him to play in order to be ready for the season opener.
  • Sunday may be the last game either Jay Feely or Chandler Catanzaro will play in a Cardinals uniform. After each kicked in one full game thus far, the two kickers will split Sunday with Feely kicking the first half and Catanzaro kicking the second. Earlier this week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was noncommittal about the kicking competition going all four preseason games. How the two kick Sunday will decide if Arians needs a fourth game to decide. If he doesn’t, Arizona will be down to one kicker after Tuesday’s first cuts.

W2W4: Cincinnati Bengals

August, 24, 2014
Aug 24
The Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) and Arizona Cardinals (1-1) play their third game of the preseason at 8 p.m. ET Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

1. Dalton's longest outing: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wouldn't tip his hand this week when asked how long he might leave his starters in this game. He wants to base their playing time on the number of plays they have, not on the quarters they play. It's possible his first-team offense plays into the start of the third quarter, but it's most likely the group calls it quits at halftime if it has reached a certain number of plays. The starters were part of eight plays at Kansas City in the preseason opener and 17 last week against the Jets. Regardless of what the number of plays will be this weekend, the bottom line is this: Look for Andy Dalton to have his longest outing of the preseason. Will he be able to keep up the strong play he has exhibited so far? Through four drives, he is 11-for-13 for 215 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals have scored on all four of his drives.

2. Watch Atkins make his debut: Early in the week, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said the plan was to get defensive tackle Geno Atkins "a couple series" in Sunday's game. Lewis added Friday that Atkins was good enough to play, even if he didn't participate in Friday's walk-through. When Atkins does take the field Sunday, he will be participating in his first game since October, when he tore his ACL on Halloween night. The injury required surgery and forced him to take his recovery quite slowly. He didn't see any 11-on-11 action during the open portion of training camp that ended last week, but Guenther said Atkins has been part of some team drills this week. We will be watching in pregame to see if Atkins gives any indication that he won't be ready. Sidelined Friday, Atkins joined linebacker Vontaze Burfict, among others. Burfict's status will be interesting to watch. He didn't practice Wednesday to Friday because of a stomach bug that has hit the team.

3. Bengals generating better depth? Lewis and Guenther were among those most adamant about generating better depth on both sides of the ball after last week's loss to the Jets. Cincinnati's hot 17-3 start was ruined by turnovers and lacking execution from players near the bottom of the depth chart. Despite their commanding lead that lasted into the second quarter, the Bengals ended up losing 25-17. The hope around Paul Brown Stadium this week has been that reserves trying to make the team kicked it into high gear just in time for Sunday's game. Watch to see if the execution is better or worse on the back end of the depth chart Sunday.


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