Cardinals cover guys will face stern test right away in 2021

(Photo by Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports) Julio Jones
(Photo by Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports) Julio Jones /

The Arizona Cardinals cornerbacks will be tested right away when they take on the Tennessee Titans offense this coming Sunday.

When the Arizona Cardinals decided to let Patrick Peterson walk away back in March, the front office believed that they’d be able to find an adequate replacement for the franchise’s all-time great.

General manager Steve Keim did exactly that one week later when he inked talented cover guy Malcolm Butler to a one-year deal. The 2015 Pro Bowler left the Cards in a lurch, however, when he decided to walk away from the NFL just days before the season-opener.

Not surprisingly, Butler’s retirement has left Arizona painfully thin at the cornerback spot. The sudden weakness at the position could very well be exposed right away this coming Sunday when the Redbirds take on a Tennessee Titans offense that can pile up points through the air.

Opening day opponent could spell bad news for the Arizona Cardinals corners

To put it simply, the Titans are well-equipped to inflict damage on the Cardinals secondary with their vaunted passing attack. It all starts with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was outstanding in 2020. The eighth overall pick of the 2012 draft threw for an impressive 3,819 yards and 33 passing scores in 16 starts for the Titans.

Wide receiver A.J. Brown is Tannehill’s number-one target. The 6-foot, 226-pounder hauled in 70 passes for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns last fall.

Back in June, Tennessee acquired seven-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons. In 135 professional appearances (134 starts), the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has tallied 848 receptions, 12,896 receiving yards, and 60 touchdowns.

A few weeks before Jones was acquired, the Titans pried free-agent wideout Josh Reynolds away from the Los Angeles Rams. The former fourth-round selection has totaled 113 catches, 1,450 yards, and nine scores during his four pro campaigns.

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While it obviously wasn’t Keim’s fault, the Butler signing could ultimately haunt the Cards in a big way. The organization may get a preview of how bad the pass coverage could be in 2021 when they take on Tannehill and his group of receivers this coming weekend.

(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)