Two games into the preseason and the Arizona Cardinals still have more questions than answers on both sides of the ball. A disappointing performance against the Tennessee Titans on Monday did little to bring any kind of resolution to the team’s personnel issues. Provided these contests lack game plans, fluidity and use just a fraction of each team’s playbook, there were still a few who set themselves apart. Meanwhile, a handful of players are in need of a shot in the arm over the course of the next two weeks.
WR Stephen Williams: One of the few bright spots for the Cardinals on Monday night, Williams hauled in three balls for 59 yards and would have had more with further work with the first-team. Williams had a potential touchdown thrown behind him by Derek Anderson and had another long pass misplaced by Matt Leinart. But the rookie wideout still stepped up to aid a beleaguered receiving corps and shined on a national stage. Williams has essentially clinched a roster spot and put himself in a position to be a major contributor this season.
LB Stevie Baggs: The former CFL standout made an impact against the Titans, creating penetration, getting pressure on the quarterback and batting down passes. Baggs has had a long, strange road to get to this point and he is starting to become accustomed to the NFL game. If his play continues to improve, the Bethune-Cookman product has a solid chance to make his first NFL roster. And, with so many unknown commodities on defense, the Cardinals should take playmakers wherever they can get them.
QB Max Hall: In his first NFL game action, Hall looked to be headed to the showers in a major way. The rookie signal caller threw into double coverage, resulting in an interception and a lot of doubts on the Arizona sideline. However, Hall bounced back the next series and marched the Cardinals’ offense down the field for their lone score of the game. Hall has been impressive in camp and is pushing John Skelton hard for the third quarterback spot. Whether or not the BYU alum can perform consistently will determine his ultimate fate.
Honorable Mention: SS Adrian Wilson, NT Dan Williams, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, CB/KR Justin Miller
Offensive Line: In what has become the biggest liability on the field, the offensive line turned in another lackluster showing Monday night. The unit missed blocks, failed to open up running lanes and looked as though they had never seen an incoming blitz before. There were expected to be some growing pains with the musical chairs played along the line in the offseason, but the adjustment period has been more difficult than expected. Russ Grimm tore into his unit on the sideline between series and more of the same could be necessary in order to be ready for the regular season.
CB Trumaine McBride: McBride and Greg Toler have been involved in the most competitive position battle for the starting corner spot opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. McBride did not help his case, being constantly picked on by the Titans’ first-team offense and failing to make some crucial plays. Between Toler’s stellar game a week ago and McBride’s struggles last night, Toler’s promotion to the first-team may only be a formality.
QB Matt Leinart: Leinart stayed off the duds list last week because he managed the game and actually produced a first down. This week was a similar story, minus the first down, which Leinart failed to achieve in three series. While he was on the short end of another sub-par outing by his offensive line, Leinart failed to make the necessary throws and finished with just 28 yards passing. The former first-round pick is still top dog, with Anderson failing to make some throws as well, but Leinart’s performance against the Titans inspires little confidence going forward.
Honorable Mention: WR Ed Gant, SS Matt Ware, LB Paris Lenon
Follow Ryan Knowles on Twitter: @RyKno52
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