The Arizona Cardinals escaped Week 1 with a 17-13 win over the St. Louis Rams thanks to a turnover-happy defense and little thanks to an all-thumbs offense. The Cardinals next test comes in the form of the Matt Ryan-led Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons squared off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 in a game that was all field goals until Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall settled the score with a 50-yard touchdown in OT to bring the Falcons into Week 2 at 0-1. They’ll play host to the Cardinals on Sunday.
5. Calais Campbell
The Cardinals third-year DE gave Sam Bradford his first welcome to the NFL moment. Ryan should expect to feel Campbell’s 6’8”, 300-pound frame as well. Ryan failed to connect with his receivers when it counted last week. Campbell & Co. should be after Ryan all day.
4. Adrian Wilson
Wilson reaped havoc on Bradford and the Rams last week, a performance that garnered national attention. He nabbed NFC Player of the Week honors for his dominant play, which included two picks, a blocked field goal and a sack. This week, the Cardinals biggest offensive threats will be in the form of WR Roddy White and RB Michael Turner (who was limited to less than 50 yards against Pittsburgh). Expect Wilson to be active in stopping both.
3. Greg Toler
Toler commendably dealt with being the lesser-named corner on the Cardinals roster against the Rams. He responded to the extra passes his way by leading the team in tackles. Teams will continue to favor Toler’s side of the field as opposed to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s. Toler’s workout will continue in Week 2.
2. Larry Fitzgerald
Steve Breaston led the Cardinals in yardage last week, but QB Derek Anderson found Fitzgerald when it mattered most. There are chemistry concerns with Anderson and Fitzgerald due to the lack of practice time. Factoring in Anderson's newness to the team, Fitzgerald's injury and the three Fitzgerald receptions last week, it’s no wonder. But the Cardinals didn’t workout Fitzgerald like they could have because his knee, “slowed him down some.” Fitzgerald says they’ll be better this week than they were last week, a mantra that should stick around while everyone gets on the same page.
1. Tim Hightower
Beanie Wells’ game-time status is once again questioned. Cardinals’ official writer Darren Urban tweeted, “It appears Wells will not be 100 percent if he's able to play against Atlanta […]” With Wells season debut pending, it’s redemption time for Hightower whose ball-security issues resurfaced in St. Louis, following a 2009 campaign where he fumbled five times, a three-way tie for second most in the NFL (tied with Matt Forte and Steve Slaton, and only second to league-leading Adrian Peterson). Hightower needs to shed the butterfingers reputation and get back in the end zone, where he made a name for himself.
Amberly Dressler is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America and has contributed to Scout.com since 2007. Her work has been published on FoxSports.com and MySpace Sports, with appearances on NFL Network, ESPN Radio and Pro Football Central.
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