Aug. 17, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks (4) Kevin Kolb and (19) John Skelton on the sidelines in the second half against the Oakland Raiders during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
What can we expect to see as players battle to become or stay the starter at their positions?
The one thing that most of the country will be paying attention to when the Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans play Thursday night is the quarterback play of both the Cardinals and the Titans. Tennessee has decided their starter, naming second year player Jake Locker "the man" to supplant veteran Matt Hasselbeck. The Cardinals, though, still have yet to settle on their starting quarterback. Most believe that John Skelton has the lead over Kevin Kolb, but head coach Ken Whisenhunt is not in any hurry to name the starter.
However, the quarterback situation is not the only position in question. With left tackle Levi Brown going down for what could be the entire 2012 season with a torn triceps, both tackle positions are up for grabs.
With the starters supposed to play into the second half of the game, why not bust out the magic crystal ball we keep hidden away just for moments like these?
What will happen in the key positional battles versus the Titans?
The quarterback situation will not clear up at all.
John Skelton is going to start the game and get extended time. Kevin Kolb will also get time with the starters. Last week, Kolb started strong and then fell apart as his protection did. Skelton came in for one drive and looked great for three throws.
Against Tennessee, the distance that Skelton might have ahead of Kolb will shrink a bit. Skelton will have a couple of bad sequences and a couple of good ones. Why? The offensive line will struggle early. Kolb will come in relief and look good in limited action because the line will get a little better because they will have seen some of the defensive moves. Most will say that Skelton still has the lead, and that will be fair, but there will be no greater separation than before.
The offensive tackle positions will be clear -- the team will be crossing its fingers for development.
The team already knows what veteran Jeremy Bridges can do. As a result, D.J. Young and D'Anthony Batiste will get looks at left tackle, while Batiste, rookie Bobby Massie and perhaps Bridges will get looks on the right side.
Young and Batiste will struggle enough on the left side that the coaches will figure that Bridges will be the best option. Batiste will hold off Massie for now.
When the team signed veteran William Gay in the offseason, they knew they would get a player that understands the defensive schemes the team would run. However, many will tell you that he is best suited playing inside as the nickel cornerback. He has held off all the competition thus far in training camp to be the number one CB2, starting across the field from Patrick Peterson, but Fleming will make some plays against the Titans.
Against the Raiders, he showed flashes great and also got nabbed with a couple of big penalties. One of them was questionable at best, but he is still learning and he will get picked on because it looks, at least early on, that no one is throwing at Peterson's man.
Fleming will break up a couple of passes, will probably get flagged for an infraction and will make some physical tackles.
Gay will play within the scheme, but will also give up a couple of plays.
Beanie Wells will look like Beanie Wells again for a few carries.
Fans have begun to talk about how Ryan Williams will take Wells' starting spot. That will only happen if Beanie is not healthy. Beanie will play for the first time this preseason and look solid in his handful of carries. Williams will also look good, but no one could say that Beanie won't be starting.
Lenon has been resting with an ankle injury. He is the starter. However, and this is a positive thing, both Stewart Bradley and Reggie Walker have been making plays. Bradley has been very good against the run and Walker has been coming in for nickel situations. They will both make some plays against Tennessee. Lenon will see only limited time on the field.
Who will win?
It doesn't matter. It's the preseason. And when the game would be decided, it is all backups. As for the starters, I expect the defense to lock down Jake Locker and make things hard for him. It will be 17-6 Cardinals at the half.
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