Game Preview: Cardinals vs. Broncos
Larry Fitzgerald (Getty)
Larry Fitzgerald (Getty)

Posted Sep 1, 2011

The Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos square off in the preseason finale Thursday night. Find out what to watch inside.

Stay healthy

The last thing the Cards need at this point is another injury at any position. With both Greg Toler and Ryan Williams suffering season-ending injuries, keeping the starters healthy for the regular season takes top priority in this game. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has already said that the starters will play longer than normal for a fourth preseason game, but any longer than a few series and Whiz runs a major risk for further injuries.

Make an impression

NFL teams must be under the 53-man roster limit by Saturday and Thursday’s game will be the final opportunity for players on the bubble to make their case for a roster spot.

"There are going to be new faces," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "Sometimes it seems like in this last game, somebody does something that makes the football team. Some guys have made tremendous strides in camp and this will be an opportunity to see them.”

Due to injuries, defensive back and running back have spots to fill, as well as wide receiver, middle linebacker and tight end. Players vying for these positions will be under a microscope. Quality special teams play could also help tip the scales in the coaches’ minds.

Pass rush

New defensive coordinator Ray Horton has revealed a few new wrinkles in the preseason including dropping linemen into coverage and flashing his patented fire-blitz scheme. However, the team’s pass rush has struggled, failing to register a sack last week against San Diego.

It’s expected to run vanilla packages on both sides of the ball to avoid tipping their hands to future opponents, but the defense needs to gain some much needed swagger after relying too much on forcing turnovers in 2010.

O is for ones

The first-team offense had its best showing of the preseason against the Chargers with solid gains through the air and ground which resulted in three consecutive scoring drives.

Whisenhunt has said the first-team would play a few series against Denver and it will be crucial for them to continue building momentum. Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald and company should look to continue their strong play to stay in form for the regular season.

Follow Ryan Knowles on Twitter: @RyKno52

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WR Larry Fitzgerald (profile)
CB Greg Toler (profile)
RB Ryan Williams (profile)
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