The Cardinals' final tune-up before the regular season saw several players stand out and prove their status as contributors. Others saw their chances dwindle and should expect a visit from "The Turk" this weekend. With the team needing to be down to 53 players by Saturday, the evaluation of this game takes on greater significance.
QB Max Hall: The rookie signal caller made a strong case to backup Derek Anderson, leading three scoring drives (2 touchdowns, 1 field goal) and making numerous plays with his legs. With the recent upheaval at the position, Hall's steady presence throughout the preseason has been very encouraging. Hall was nearly perfect against Washington, completing 7 of 9 passes for 126 yards along with a rushing touchdown. Hall has secured his spot on the roster and his development going forward should be fun to watch.
QB Derek Anderson: While he only played just one series against a reserve filled Redskins defense, Anderson made a couple excellent throws and quieted some doubting him as the starter. Anderson still has work to do, particularly improving his touch on short passes, but his play in the past few weeks has been comforting. If he can become the leader under center Arizona is starving for, Anderson could receive the best his teammates have to offer, making the offense that much more efficient.
LB Daryl Washington: The rookie linebacker should pay rent for as much as he has been on this list in the preseason. This year's second-round draft pick was all over the field on Thursday night, flashing his speed and tackling ability. Washington has all the skills to be a stalwart NFL linebacker, now he must translate those skills to the regular season. The TCU product played his way into the starting lineup, but it's uncertain how long Washington will stay there upon Gerald Hayes' returns.
Young Receivers: This group has been a pleasant surprise throughout the course of the preseason with their stellar play and continuous improvement. Stephen Williams had another strong performance Thursday and should be a player to watch when the regular season begins. Max Komar and Onrea Jones were in a dogfight for the final wideout spot, with Komar ultimately winning. Komar's body of work was too much to ignore and his potential on special teams sealed the deal. Jones is a candidate for the practice squad.
Honorable Mention: DE Kenny Iwebema, LB Monty Beisel, LB Clark Haggans, DE Calais Campbell
QB Matt Leinart: In what was likely his final game with the Cardinals, Leinart did little to help his value for potential teams Thursday. Leinart was not afforded much help from his receivers or his offensive line at times, but his "swan song" should still have been sweeter than completing 3 of 5 passes for 14 yards. Arizona granted Leinart permission to seek a trade before the game, but the former first-round pick could still be among the final cuts this weekend.
G Reggie Wells: Like Leinart, Wells' name was tossed onto the trading block and he was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Wells was beat on several occasions by players considered to be backups or worse this time next week. Coupled with the improved play of Deuce Lutui and Rex Hadnot, Wells found himself shipped out of town for a sixth-round draft pick. Wells still has the skill set to be an effective lineman, but it will happen in Philadelphia rather than with the Cardinals.
Reserve Defense: The Cardinals' defense in the fourth quarter gave up a great deal of ground. Cornerbacks Justin Miller and A.J. Jefferson were burned for long gains multiple occasions. There were several missed tackles and Redskins quarterback John Beck had all day to throw. Some players in the second and third units have shown strong desire at times, but have not shown the consistency coaches need to see. This week's game tape should reflect who makes it and who doesn't out of this group.
The Running Game: This was a strong point in last week's win over the Bears, but the Cardinals didn't seem in sync early on. Part of this has been the coaches running vanilla blocking schemes and plays to keep opposing defenses in the dark. But running backs Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells have struggled to hit holes and get consistent yardage, which can be a cause for concern. Neither back played much Thursday, but Arizona will need the running game to excel this season in order to be successful.
Honorable Mention: S Hamzah Abdullah, CB Trevor Ford
Follow Ryan Knowles on Twitter: @RyKno52
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