Arizona Cardinals: 5 things to watch for against Chargers


The Arizona Cardinals host the San Diego Chargers this evening at University of Phoenix Stadium at 7:00 p.m.

The Arizona Cardinals take the field on Saturday night for their second preseason game.  Last week they lost their preseason opener 34-19 to the Kansas City Chiefs.  This week expect to see a bit of a different game since we are now further into the preseason.

Next week will probably be the biggest preseason test for everyone, however this week is the first time we will get to see some starters for an extended amount of time.  Last week the starters played one series.  Here are five things to watch for on Saturday night.

1. The starters

The Cardinals starters played one series last week and marched right down the field and scored a touchdown after a 57-yard connection from quarterback Carson Palmer to running back Andre Ellington.  Ellington later punched the ball in from two yards.  That was all we saw from the starting offense.

This week we are expected to see the starters for the entire first quarter.  That is key because now it gives the Cardinals starting offense to work on gaining momentum from series to series.  Next week as I said will be a bigger test since the starters will likely play at least the first half if not longer.

The starting defense played one series and that resulted in cornerback Tyrann Mathieu getting an interception.  That interception set up a Chandler Catanzaro field goal.  That Cardinals starters put 10 points on the board in less than five minutes.

2. Rodney Gunter

Rookie Rodney Gunter has been placed in a starting role, for now, in place of the injured Corey Peters.  That’s an impressive move from the bottom of the depth chart after just one preseason game.  Gunter however earned the look as the starter this week though.

Last week against the Chiefs, Gunter had a sack that resulted in a safety.  Gunter was a guy we’ve talked about a lot since he was drafted out of Deleware State and so far, he’s come as advertised.  I look forward to seeing what he can do against the Chargers.

3. Chris Johnson

The Cardinals just signed him early in the week this week, so I don’t know how much playing time he’ll see but you can be rest assured he’ll get into the game.  It will be interesting to see how he performs against and offensive line that is deep but has suffered a loss in Mike Iupati.  Ted Larsen comes into his place.  Johnson had a 4.3 yards-per-carry average last season and we’ll be looking for that type of running this season from him.

4. Defensive depth

The Cardinals have a deep defensive line, even with the loss of Peters, however the backups last week were torched by the Chiefs second and third string guys.  They also missed a lot of tackles.  Hopefully the missed tackles is something they all worked on this past week in camp.  I know head coach Bruce Arians addressed it immediately last week, so I expect a better game this week from the defense.  However it sure made it appears as if the Cardinals could have depth issues in the defensive backfield.

5. Pace of game

The Cardinals showed some no-huddle offense last week with the first team.  It worked.  It was something we hadn’t seen a lot of in the past.  I’d like to see more.  Not necessarily on every down and drive but enough to keep the Chargers on their toes.  Of course you don’t want to tip your hand too much in the preseason.

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