(Sports Network) - The paying customers at University of Phoenix Stadium will be watching the home team's offense with some expectancy on Saturday night, when the Arizona Cardinals play host to the Houston Texans in the preseason opener for both teams.
The two-time defending NFC West champion Cardinals will be making a change behind center in 2010, after veteran Kurt Warner joined an already substantial contingent of Arizona retirees this offseason.
Saturday night's contest should help bring into sharper focus whether Matt Leinart and/or Derek Anderson has the goods to step in and keep the offense rolling.
With newcomer Alan Faneca (ex-Jets) having been brought into upgrade the interior offensive line, Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt will also focus on the transition to a more run-based approach utilizing running backs Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower.
Following Anquan Boldin's trade to the Ravens, the team will also need the likes of wide receivers Steve Breaston and Early Doucet, among others, to show productivity in what could be limited snaps on Saturday.
Defensively, a linebacking corps now including ex-Dolphin Joey Porter, journeyman Paris Lenon (ex-Rams) and rookie Daryl Washington (2nd Round, TCU) will be seeking to show some early chemistry. Another newcomer, safety Kerry Rhodes, will be out to prove that he can be the equal of the departed Antrel Rolle.
Arizona will also unveil its offseason switch at kicker on Saturday, with the well-traveled Jay Feely replacing the erratic Neil Rackers, now coincidentally a member of the Texans.
Houston, meanwhile, will take its initial preseason steps toward building off last year's 9-7 finish, the best record in team history. Head coach Gary Kubiak is seeking to answer a bunch of questions on defense, first and foremost.
In the secondary, where Dunta Robinson is now a Falcon, Houston must have the young likes of Glover Quin and first-round rookie Kareem Jackson (Alabama) begin to look like cornerbacks who are ready to deal with Peyton Manning in the not-too-distant future. Within the front seven, coordinator Frank Bush needs to determine whether second-year pro Conor Barwin is ready to make an impact off the edge and whether Xavier Adibi is prepared to hold down the fort at strongside linebacker while Brian Cushing is serving a four-game steroid suspension to start the season.
The biggest battle on offense could be at running back, where Steve Slaton had fumbling and injury issues and second-rounder Ben Tate (Auburn) and the emerging Arian Foster could push him.
Quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson, among other starters for both teams, should make little more than a cameo in Arizona.
The Texans kicking game will also be worth watching, as the inconsistent Kris Brown is competing with Rackers for a roster spot. Diminutive rookie return specialist Trindon Holliday (LSU) should get some chances to show what he can do as well.
The Texans and Cardinals have met just one other time in the preseason, a 33-20 Houston road win prior to the 2007 campaign.
The clubs also met in meaningful play last Oct. 11, a 28-21 Cardinals win at University of Phoenix Stadium.