Questions Put to Rest after Thursday's Loss

Ken Whisenhunt (Matt York/AP)

The Cardinals took a loss on their first organized game of 2008. However, don't be disheartened; even though victory was not in the Cards, a few observations have revealed valuable information about the upcoming season. From quarterback battles to penalties, penalties, and more penalties, here are 10 facts that have come to light after Thursday's game.

1. The quarterback battle is non-existent…

Ken Whisenhunt has repeatedly maintained that the quarterback competition is open, in spite of Matt Leinart being hailed as the future. If that is true, then shouldn't Warner have been at the helm for at least one series? Don't buy into Warner's comments about the team knowing how he plays and therefore giving all the first team reps to Leinart is acceptable. He wanted to be out there as bad as anyone. Fair or not, the fact of the matter is that this battle is all but over. Unfortunately for Warner, he is the only one who doesn't seem to realize it.

2. Tim Hightower is the real deal…

For the past month Cardinals fans and media alike have been raving about Hightower's potential. Running against fellow teammates in 7 on 7 drills is one challenge, but against the first team of the New Orleans Saints new defense is on a completely different level. Hightower showed exceptional ability both running through the tackles and around the outside. Hightower would have been a solid third round pick, but coming in the fifth round, he was an absolute steal.

3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can actually tackle…

Just ask TE Mark Campbell. Rodgers-Cromartie is built with a small frame and less than amazing upper body strength, so tackling on an NFL level was a major concern at the combine for Rodgers-Cromartie. After Thursday's game, it is safe to say that it shouldn't be a problem. If Rodgers-Cromartie can add great tackling to his repertoire of speed and agility, he will be a top tier corner for years to come.

4. Brian St. Pierre will be the emergency quarterback…

St. Pierre had a solid outing and far outplayed his competitor Anthony Morelli. St. Pierre went 12 of 18 for 84 yards. Morelli, on the other hand, struggled with 2 of 6 completed. With Warner and Leinart ahead of him on the depth chart his chances of playing are slim, but in the event that he does play he has the potential to be an effective stopgap for a few games.

5. Thanks for playing Early Doucet, but Steve Breaston will be the slot receiver…

It is unfortunate when an injury does not allow for fair competition. Especially in what was expected to be a hotly contested battle between Doucet and Breaston. As Doucet nursed a hamstring pull on the sidelines, Breaston busted out for 50 yards receiving on only three catches. The most impressive catch came on a 34-yard reception that kept a scoring drive alive in the first half. Unless Breaston seriously digresses over the next three games, Doucet will be locked in as the fourth receiver.

6. If Coach Whisenhunt preaches discipline then what's with all the penalties?

Regardless of talent if the Cardinals lead the league in penalties again this season they will have no chance of making the playoffs. After an off-season of wondering how the Cardinals would improve on their remarkable 137 penalties last year, they promptly committed two penalties on the first drive, including a facemask on the first play of the game. They must learn to limit mental mistakes or it will be another long season for Cardinal faithful.

7. The pass defense still needs a lot of work…

During the first possession of the game Drew Brees carved up the Cardinals pass defense. It was an unsettling sight to watch and hopefully the next game will show their true talent. Antrel Rolle looked a bit out of position, but that is to be expected during the first few games of his transition. The run defense was great and if the secondary can rebound and match their counterparts then the Cardinals will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC West.

8. J.J. Arrington is treading on thin ice…

After the release of Marcel Shipp, Arrington's job seemed a bit more secure. After his performance on Thursday he might need to start looking for another home. After a few poor runs and a dropped pass he did not seem to be focused. Coach Whisenhunt needs players who are mentally prepared and do not make simple mistakes. Arrington needs to have a solid game next week or his tenure in the desert may be cut short.

9. The run defense was stellar…

The lone positive aspect of the first series was the fantastic run defense by the Cardinals. While the secondary was being torched by Brees, the front line was stifling Reggie Bush. The quality play culminated on a goal line stand in the second quarter. An improved run defense would be a priceless asset to the team's playoff aspirations.

10. At least Brett Favre wasn't at the game…

The ongoing coverage of the Favre saga has been so overbearing that just turning on the television can be a painful process. As the Cardinals dropped their first game, solace was available in the fact that for roughly two to three hours no mention of Favre's current location, feelings, or previously consumed meal was heard. That fact alone made it a victory for all those who attended the game.

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