Preseason games afford many players opportunities to make their case for roster spots. In the Cardinals case, several stood out for different reasons in their come from behind win over Houston Saturday night. It’s still the first week of the preseason and teams aren’t required to make first cuts for another two weeks, but some players shouldn't get too comfortable while others can start house hunting.
Daryl Washington: The rookie linebacker was stellar in his first NFL action, tallying 13 tackles, a pass deflection and a fumble recovery. Washington was in the lower tier of the depth chart at middle linebacker going into the weekend, but definitely made a statement with his performance. The TCU product is still raw, but his athleticism and a need of playmakers at the position will make it tough to keep Washington off the field.
Greg Toler: Going in neck-and-neck with Trumaine McBride for the top cornerback spot across from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Toler may have inched ahead after his play on Saturday. The second-year corner was solid in coverage, making a couple deflections and certainly showed his progression from last season. Toler struggled a bit in run support and missed a couple tackles, but all signs point to him continuing to improve.
John Skelton: For two weeks of training camp, it appeared that Max Hall was winning the battle of the rookie quarterbacks. But John Skelton proved his worth, leading the Cardinals on two fourth quarter touchdown drives. The fifth-round draft pick showed excellent pocket presence, touch on his throws and confidence in his ability. It also speaks volumes that Ken Whisenhunt tabbed Skelton over Hall to shoulder the third-team offense.
Honorable Mentions: Undrafted Rookie Receivers, Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells
First-Team Offensive Line: You could put the entire first-team offense here, but the unit’s shortcomings were due in large part to the guys up front. Too many missed blocks and assignments and sloppy play overall prevented Matt Leinart from getting into a rhythm. Brandon Keith struggled to maintain a strong base and was schooled by Mario Williams a couple times. Levi Brown was inconsistent and got beat off the snap more than the coaches would like to see. Alan Faneca was signed to bring stability to the position, but looked uncomfortable in his first action with Arizona. Bottom line, the o-line needs to drastically improve before the regular season.
Derek Anderson: While Leinart didn’t blow anyone away with his performance Saturday, he did manage the game and refrained from turning the ball over. The same can not be said for Anderson who was intercepted twice. Additionally, Anderson threw into coverage, stared down receivers and lacked touch on his throws. Anderson played well in the second half, but against Houston’s third-team defense. The veteran signal caller is still an integral part of this team, but his bid to start took a critical blow.
Justin Miller: The veteran corner was not only beaten badly on Andre Johnson’s touchdown catch, but looked out of position on too many plays to his side of the field. Miller played well on special teams, but his struggles in coverage cannot be overlooked. Several of the Cardinals’ young corners played very well Saturday, so Miller will need to step up his game if he wants to stick around.
Honorable Mention: Andre Roberts, Monty Beisel
Follow Ryan Knowles on Twitter: @RyKno52
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