Game Scout: Cardinals @ Redskins

Ken Whisenhunt (Getty)

The Cardinals look to start 2-0 against a Washington shaping up to be much better than expected.

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
GAMEDATE: 9/18/11
SURFACE: Natural grass
TV: FOX, Chris Myers, Tim Ryan

PREDICTION: Redskins 31-20

KEYS TO THE GAME: Redskins RB Tim Hightower said he needs to be more patient when he takes the field against his former team and allow cut-back lanes to develop. If he can be productive, QB Rex Grossman could be in store for a second consecutive strong outing against Arizona's injury-thinned secondary. The Cardinals need to establish RB Beanie Wells early to protect that defense on the road. With WR Larry Fitzgerald double-teamed most of Week 1, look for him to be put in motion more this week.

INSIDE THE CAMPS

CARDINALS

Inside linebacker Stewart Bradley signed a five-year, $30 million deal soon after the lockout ended, but he stayed on the sideline for most of last Sunday's game.

Even when starter Daryl Washington left with a strained calf in the fourth quarter, Bradley didn't enter the game. It was Reggie Walker.

That could change this week, however, if Washington misses the Redskins game. Bradley could play the strong side with Paris Lenon moving to the weak side, which is Washington's spot.

Bradley might have been held out last week, because Lenon had received little practice time at the weak side position.

Washington's absence, however, is a blow to the Cardinals. The second-year pro looked great in training camp and played well in the opener.

He had two interceptions, although one was nullified by penalty.

At 258 pounds, Bradley would add some muscle to the run defense. He also runs well, so the Cardinals could use him in some nickel packages.

REDSKINS

Tight end Fred Davis' rookie year in Washington didn't go well.

The second-round pick in the 2008 draft overslept his third day of minicamp, causing a stir and putting him in the doghouse before he had learned his way around Redskins Park. Davis wound up with just two catches in 11 games while starter Chris Cooley set franchise marks for catches and receiving yards by a tight end and was chosen for a second consecutive Pro Bowl.

Although coach Jim Zorn vowed to use two tight ends more in 2009, Davis had just seven catches in the first six games before stepping up when Cooley went down with a season-ending broken ankle. Davis caught 41 balls for 464 yards and a team-high six touchdowns during the last 10 games.

However, with Cooley healthy again in 2010, Davis returned to (mostly) forgotten man status under new coach Mike Shanahan with 21 catches to the starter's 77.

But this summer was a different one for Davis, who's in the final year of his contract. He dropped 15 pounds to become more of a downfield threat after watching Houston's lighter Owen Daniels succeed in a similar offense, studied film more intensely and had his reps skyrocket as Cooley missed all of preseason with a sore knee.

Shanahan started both tight ends in the regular-season opener against the New York Giants and it was Davis who had the big day, grabbing five of the six passes Rex Grossman threw in his direction for a career-high 105 yards, stats that ranked him as the NFL's most productive tight end behind perennial Pro Bowl pick Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys.

"In (Zorn's offense), the tight ends didn't run that many deep routes," Davis said. "I don't remember running any seam (routes). We ran a lot of short routes. You had to get as many yards as you could after the catch. This offense (allows) you to make a lot of plays. I watch other tight ends and I feel I can be one of the best in the league."

Shanahan, in whose offense tight end Shannon Sharpe flourished en route to the Hall of Fame, likes what he's seeing from Davis, who might finally be ready to fulfill his potential.

"By losing some weight and having an excellent offseason, he's giving himself the ability to have a heck of a year," Shanahan said. "I think he's enjoying what he's doing and looks like he's having fun. Usually when players are having fun, they have a way of coming up with big plays just like he did in the first game."

PERSONNEL NEWS

CARDINALS

--ILB Stewart Bradley, who signed a five-year, $30 million deal before the season, is still making the transition from the 4-3 scheme he ran with the Eagles to the 3-4. That's why Bradley stayed on the sidelines when starter Daryl Washington was hurt in the fourth quarter. Washington has a calf strain. If he can't play, either Reggie Walker or Bradley will take his place.

--TE Jeff King is the starter because he's a much better blocker than Todd Heap. Heap is going to play a lot, but he's clearly No. 2.

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Chester Taylor, signed last week, likely will be active for the first time. Taylor could play a small role on offense, especially in passing situations and in relief of starter Beanie Wells.

--RB/KR LaRod Stephens-Howling is likely to miss Sunday's game with a hand contusion. Stephens-Howling hasn't practiced this week. Coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn't ruled Stephens-Howling out, but the running back is wearing a large wrap on his right hand and wrist. It doesn't seem likely he will play for at least a week or two.

--WR DeMarco Sampson, the team's fifth receiver last week, missed practice Thursday with a sore hamstring. Sampson was active last week because he's a better special teams player than Stephen Williams.

--OLB Joey Porter is expected to play fewer snaps this year as the Cardinals work rookie Sam Acho and second-year pro O'Brien Schofield into the lineup. The hope is that Porter can stay fresher and be effective at age 34.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald needs two touchdowns to pass Roy Green for the franchise lead in touchdown receptions. Fitzgerald has 65. He did not score last week.

REDSKINS

--SS LaRon Landry was limited again in practice on Thursday with a tender right hamstring and will almost surely sit out a ninth straight game, dating back to last November, on Sunday against Arizona. Reed Doughty would start again in his place.

--OLB Brian Orakpo was limited again on Thursday because of a sprained right ankle suffered last week against the New York Giants. Orakpo expects to play but if he can't, pass-rush specialist Rob Jackson would get the start.

--TE Chris Cooley took full work for a second straight day on Thursday and should start against the Cardinals.

--CB DeAngelo Hall (back) took full practice again on Thursday and should start on Sunday.

--ILB Keyaron Fox (back) was limited on Thursday and is questionable for Sunday.

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