Of the main storylines during 2009 training camp, none are bigger than the battle between backup quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Brian St. Pierre for the second-string spot. With QB Kurt Warner firmly planted as Arizona’s starter under center, both Leinart and St. Pierre should see extended action Thursday night in Pittsburgh. First impressions are always important and the year’s initial preseason game could go a long way towards determining who’ll backup Warner.
An unfortunate story thus far during training camp has been the injury-plagued start of rookie RB Chris Wells. The main concern regarding Wells coming out of the college ranks was his inability to stay on the field. Wells suffered an ankle injury during his first practice with the Cardinals and his status is now uncertain. Wells hasn’t been ruled out for tonight’s matchup against the Steelers but he’s unlikely to receive expanded playing time due to the injury.
Other players already ruled out for Thursday’s preseason tussle are WR Early Doucet, TE Anthony Becht, and OT Elliot Vallejo. DL Keilen Dykes is also expected to be held out of action but hasn’t officially been relegated to the sidelines. Doucet and Becht's time off the field is inopportune given the competition at both the wide receiver and tight end positions. Doucet will be hard pressed to supplant WR Jerheme Urban as Arizona’s fourth receiver and Becht will have to outperform a host of tight ends on the roster.
As for the rest of the Cardinals’ offense, it should be business as usual. The talents of wideouts Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston are well-known and they’ll likely see limited action. Second-year RB Tim Hightower should receive a handful of touches but expect to see plenty of backup running backs Jason Wright and LaRod Stephens-Howling out of the backfield.
On defense, several rookies and second-year players will be out to prove their worth. Arizona’s starting lineup on the defensive side of the ball is fairly set but numerous backups will be vying for playing time in the rotation. Among those players are LB Cody Brown, S Rashad Johnson and CB Greg Toler. In addition, DE Calais Campbell will have first shot at replacing Antonio Smith and fellow DE Kenny Iwebema is also expected to play a prominent role in the trenches.
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