Bruce Arians sees a lot of positives about playing Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. They play a version of the Tampa Two thanks to new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, a zone that forces different decision-making than the quarterbacks have been making thus far. They feature a four-man defensive front, which the Cards do not see in practice. These are all things the Cards need to work on in preseason game No. 2.
But it’s also a game against Cowboys, which, preseason or not, tends to bring with it a different vibe than other games. When you hear guys like Jonathan Cooper talking about nerves, it seems to me playing against Dallas doesn’t do much to help – especially knowing it’s a nationally televised game on NFL Network (which will be blacked out locally I believe, because ABC-15 has the game here.)
This, however, is where I’d think one of the biggest benefits of holding training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium comes into play. Usually, the team hasn’t even been to the stadium yet, or maybe had a brief walkthrough the night before. But all these new players – rookies and otherwise – know UoP like the back of their hand now. They are there almost every day, dressing in the locker room and playing football on the field. There will be no newness to it whatsoever. As a player, they aren’t going to be any more comfortable than they already are.
– Arians said he plans to play his starters about 20 plays but also doesn’t want to have them play the entire first half. My guess is that their performance will dictate some of that, at least offensively. Arians was not happy with the number of points the Cards scored last week and that will be something to watch.
– General Manager Steve Keim, on Thursday night’s Big Red Rage, said Arians “has a few tricks up his sleeve for the fans on Saturday.” Hmm. Any chance the Patrick Peterson-at-receiver gets unveiled? Regardless, something to look forward to in the home opener.
– With Tyrann Mathieu starting at free safety, he may just be limited to those 20 plays. But I wouldn’t be shocked if they extend Mathieu a little with the second unit. With Jonathon Amaya already nursing a knee injury, the Cards are thinner at safety with Rashad Johnson down and it’s not like Mathieu doesn’t need the reps. Keim said Mathieu didn’t want to come out of the game last week in Green Bay.
– Here’s the reality of camp and fighting for jobs, too. Keim said the powers-that-be “probably have 10 tough discussions” coming on who was going to make the roster. “The rest are set in stone.” Do the math, and a lot of guys are already out of it before a second preseason game is even played.
– There are a lot of guys who need to make some inroads after injuries. CB Jamell Fleming and WR Robert Gill are two that come to mind. Arians hasn’t really made a secret out of the fact guys fall behind when they are hurt. When you are fighting to make the team, you can’t afford hiccups.
– Speaking of injuries, Keim was noting how guard Daryn Colledge came back “on a fractured leg” to fend off Paul Fanaika. Colledge was put right back with the first unit when he returned to practice this week.
– One player to watch is kicker Jay Feely. Feely had a good season last year and he is very dependable. But he did miss a long field goal last week and his leg doesn’t always boom kickoffs. Like most positions, Arians isn’t going to just give a guy the job. Finding an upgrade may be tough, but that doesn’t mean the Cards wouldn’t look.
– Do not forget the new bag policy is in place. Go here to read about all the details.
– Paid final respects to former Arizona Republic writer Jim Gintonio this morning. He was a good man and I hope he rests in peace. Go here or here or here to read those more eloquent about Gintonio the man than I.
– Reports from Dallas are that quarterback Tony Romo will get about 15 plays himself.
A day game in the preseason. Something different.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Cowboys, Daryn Colledge, Jamell Fleming, Jay Feely, Jonathan Cooper, Paul Fanaika, Robert Gill, Roster, Steve Keim, Tony Romo, Tyrann Mathieu
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With the toe or foot be a problem for Kevin Kolb Sunday? He doesn’t think so.
“It won’t hold me down too bad,” Kolb said. “I’m sure DeMarcus Ware would probably disagree.” Kolb chuckled. “When you are running from fear, you run faster and you don’t worry about your foot.”
(And it was a joke people. Save the jabs about Kolb and running.)
But here we are, to Kolb’s return after more than a month away from a game, with Ware – the NFL’s sack leader — set to face left tackle Levi Brown, who has played better of late, especially when the Cards have run the ball. How will it all wash out? The Cowboys are playing well, but they aren’t the Packers or even the Saints. And the Cards will be at home. Yes, I expect a good amount of Dallas fans. But not the majority.
Kolb seems like he has regained some confidence with this time away. I think it actually may have helped him, as was speculated by many it could. If the Cards can keep Beanie churning away, I think the offense can be OK.
– On the other side of the ball, there is also intrigue. Kolb hasn’t played with this version of the defense yet. Not with Sam Acho coming along and the scheme under control. The Eagles’ offense was actually playing pretty well at the point the Cards got to it and the Cardinals came out pretty good in that game. You’d hope they could do the same against the Cowboys, and turn the QB into the “bad” Tony Romo he can be sometimes.
– Completely unrealistic to think Beanie Wells will break out for another 200 yards. But I don’t think 100 is an unfair goal. The Cowboys do have a good run defense (10th in the league) but the Cards believe they have found a ground game.
“It was the commitment to the run game (last week),” fullback Anthony Sherman said. “Even if we didn’t get much we kept going to the same style of run plays and it worked.”
– Interesting take on Patrick Peterson’s progress as a cornerback from defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Horton reiterated that he thinks, eventually, Peterson will get respect from the officials despite being physical. He said Peterson is “right on pace” to develop as a corner.
Then he talked about what, in his view, was Peterson’s biggest problem early in the season.
“He assumed, if he had good coverage, they wouldn’t throw the ball at him,” Horton said. “You remember, Carolina, they threw the touchdown pass. He just stopped. Against the Giants, the same thing. Now he understands, ‘Just because I’m Patrick Peterson, they’ll still throw the ball at me.’ ”
– These are the games where Darnell Dockett really seems to pop. He had a very good game last week against the Rams – no sacks, but incredibly disruptive – and said it was simply because the game plan “gave me more opportunities.”
“They put a lot more on the D-line,” Dockett said, although he bristled just a bit at the idea he was playing harder. “Every time I step on the field, I’m going 110 miles an hour.”
– Safety Kerry Rhodes, out since the Vikings game Oct. 9 with his broken foot, got back out on the practice field Friday. I’d think he would still be at least a couple games away, but we will see how he does with his recovery.
– Over the last four games, the Cardinals have forced the opposition to punt 25 times. Only Atlanta (26) has forced more punts.
– Fans voted Beanie the “FedEx Ground player of the week” this week after his 228-yard game.
– There are going to be new security procedures for those coming to the games going forward, with handheld metal detectors instead of a patdown. Not every entry point will use this as of yet, but click here for all the details.
– Fitz needs 112 yards receiving to reach 1,000. For some reason, I think he gets it Sunday.
OK, then. Bring on the Cowboys.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Cowboys, Darnell Dockett, DeMarcus Ware, Kerry Rhodes, Patrick Peterson, Tony Romo
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