Just days after breaking camp in Flagstaff, the Cardinals head to the road for the first time in 2010. After winning its first preseason game of the year, Arizona will look to build on that momentum in Tennessee. With the starting unit expected to play most of the first half, coach Ken Whisenhunt and company will have plenty to watch on Monday night.
First-Team Offense: With two disappointing series marring their preseason debut, the first-team offense will look to rebound and perform well against a stingy Titans defense. Quarterback Matt Leinart and the offensive line will be under particular scrutiny, as they need to bounce back from a disappointing showing last Saturday and build confidence going forward.
"I want to see Matt continue to make his reads, make his checks and manage our offense," Whisenhunt said of his quarterback.
In addition, with no Larry Fitzgerald or Early Doucet, the young receivers will need to make plays to take pressure off the rest of the unit.
The Rookies: Several newcomers including Daryl Washington, Jim Dray and John Skelton certainly improved their standing with impressive showings in the first preseason game. The coaching staff would like to see them sustain that level of success in Tennessee. This game also provides rookie receivers Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams, Max Komar and others to see more of the field and showcase their skills.
"We've got a number of talented young guys, but they're learning something new all the time in practice and in games, how they have to fight for the ball, how they have to run their routes, how they get off their releases,” said Whisenhunt of the team’s situation at the receiver. “I'm excited to see them play and see how they continue to improve."
Position Battles: Some shuffling is expected on the depth chart prior to the regular season and these games will be the proving ground for potential starters. Trumaine McBride and Greg Toler are in a dead heat at starting cornerback and standing out in this game could give the better player an edge. Middle linebacker is also open as Washington, Monty Beisel and Pago Togafau are all in the running to start next to Paris Lenon in Gerald Hayes’ absence. Washington and Togafau both made plays against Houston, so expect Beisel to have a chip on his shoulder in this contest. With Ben Patrick out and four talented players vying for three roster spots, the tight end position has come into question. Dray along with veterans Anthony Becht, Steven Spach and Dominique Byrd will all be looking to impress in both the run and passing game to make their case for roster spots.
The Running Game: Part of this goes back to the performance of the offensive line, but starters Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells were not impressive in their first preseason outing. They took bad running lanes, hit holes that were not there and looked a bit uncomfortable when the ball was in their hands. Granted this was the first preseason game and everyone is still getting up to speed, but the Cards are expected to place more emphasis on the ground game this season, therefore a strong showing by the backs would alleviate any concerns.
Follow Ryan Knowles on Twitter: @RyKno52
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