The Arizona Cardinals quest for a quarterback has become a train wreck, a focal point that’s hard to look away from. After Thursday’s 32-27 preseason loss to the Tennessee Titans, Coach Ken Whisenhunt emphasizes that it isn’t necessarily about the mistakes that have been made, it is about how each player will “respond to their corrections”. There are unarguably vital corrections to be made on and off the field as the fight-for-53 deadline of August 31st nears. Don’t be too quick to judge, the Cards aren’t the only team in the NFL that has major adjustments to make. Preseason is about progress, a time when every fan has hope for the regular season, and a time to move forward from unfortunate circumstances.
Moving Past “Cheap” Shots & Inconsistencies: Raider turnovers resulted in 10 points and a preseason Arizona Cardinals win, but then 5 turnovers during the Tennessee Titans game the following week ended up in a loss. Cardinals DT Ricky Lumpkin faces a $21,000 fine for a late blow on secondary Oakland QB (former Cardinal QB) Matt Leinart. Arizona QB Kevin Kolb caught a verbal stab from Raider DT Tommy Kelly who called him “skittish” post game. Focus is needed to overcome on the field, as Whisenhunt hinted in a recent press release. Consistency and avoiding costly penalties are also needed as the Cardinals move forward into the regular season.
Levi Out & O-Line Obstacles: After a season ending tricep injury placed ’07 first round draft pick Levi Brown on IR, the looming question of a successful starting offensive line became more daunting. If there isn’t adequate pass protection, any quarterback would only experience time in the pocket as a rare luxury. Whisenhunt relied on the natural playing instincts of D.J. Young and D’Anthony Batiste against the Titans to see how they would fare. A combination of Batiste at left and rookie Bobby Massie at right tackle showed some improvement, but it was Young’s first start and Brown’s shoes are big ones to fill. Other options are Jeremy Bridges (who has 10 years of NFL experience) and rookie Nate Potter. The quarterback contest will come to an end soon enough and the final preseason game against the Denver Broncos will be revealing as Cardinal fans anticipate a veteran-rookie combination that could work to protect an unknown starting quarterback.
Final Roster Cuts: Coach Whisenhunt did say that trimming this year’s roster has been the “most difficult” in his 6 years with the Arizona Cardinals. Rookie William Powell currently leads the NFL with 7.1 yards per carry and Alfonso Smith’s play time in 2011 came after Beanie Wells was injured. Now, both Wells and Ryan Willams are recovered and the roster still has to shrink in the running back department. Smith and Powell can be expected to give their best against the Broncos in hopes of making the final roster.