The Arizona Cardinals are back in their comfy, air conditioned homes. After four weeks of training camp in Flagstaff and two road preseason games, the team is happy to be back in Phoenix, even if the thermometer is approaching, "Crazy Hot" level. The Cardinals will now host their first NFL game of the 2011 preseason when the San Diego Chargers come to University Stadium on Saturday evening, 7:00 p.m. local time.
"They're ready to go. Ready to get back to the routine of the in-season with their families and I can't blame them," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said Thursday morning about his players after their final training camp practice in Flagstaff.
Thanks to the 54th consecutive sellout for the Cardinals since moving into University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006, the game will be broadcast live on local television on ABC channel 15. Rich Cellini will have the play-by-play with Glenn Parker providing analysis and the always brilliant Jody Jackson on the sideline.
Week 3 of the NFL preseason is typically the most "real game" of the four exhibition games. Teams will play their starters into the second half and use more of their regular season looks. We can expect to see Kevin Kolb do exactly that and we can only imagine Chargers QB Philip Rivers will also play at least two full quarters.
Both the Cardinals and Chargers are 1-1 on the preseason and both are coming off a 2010 season without a playoff appearance. The Chargers, of course, were a much better team than last year's Cardinals but the players are anxious to have the opportunity to prove something in this game. Several mentioned wanting to give the Arizona fans reason to be hopeful for this season wash away the bad memories of last year.
Coach Whisenhunt, however, played down expectations. "You've got to be careful about how much emphasis you put on what's going to happen in this game. We want to play well and we want to win, there's no question about that, but you got to realize too that we're going to do some things in this game that we've never done in live action before."
What the Cardinal's coach is looking for is reduction in the penalties and mistakes. If that happens, he says, "then we've gotten better as a team and that's what we're trying to do."
The Cardinals will be without S Adrian Wilson (bicep) and CB Michael Adams (knee). QB John Skelton (ankle) is unlikely and rookies TE Rob Housler (groin) and WR DeMarco Sampson (hamstring) will be evaluated again before the game.