After eking out a reserve-led 19-16 victory over the Houston Texans in preseason game one, the Arizona Cardinals will be looking for more this time out against the Tennessee Titans.
In particular, offensive consistency will be key. Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson, and the first-team offense didn't do much to move the chain or score, and the expectation in game two will be avoiding an anemic repeat performance.
Although Matt Leinart wasn't terrible (6-for-7 for 49 yards and a 95.8 quarterback rating), he also didn't excel, and excellence is the unfortunate expectation when you're a team's starting QB. Back-up Anderson also faltered, going 13-for-22 with two interceptions and a 45.3 QB rating.
The two will be expected to produce more in game two, and Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt placed added emphasis on quarterback play in this week's practices.
While Whisenhunt was pleased with rookie QB John Skelton's play last week, he was quick to temper expectations going forward, saying, "Well, it's one game. It's one game and it's in the fourth quarter of a preseason game. Now, if he has a repeat performance this week then it's something you have to look at."
The team will likely give fellow rookie QB Max Hall some playing time in Monday's game, as well. He did not play at all in the Houston game.
Hall and Skelton are using the preseason to battle for the third-string QB spot. The coaching staff is not expected to make a decision regarding the position until after the preseason is over, but they have expressed interest in keeping both QBs on the team, regardless of the final depth chart.
Also on the rookie front, linebacker Daryl Washington will hope to string together two good performances after his stand-out, disruptive defense against the Texans. The Cardinals are weak at the inside linebacker position and they will be depending on Washington to contribute heavily throughout the season. So far, he has not disappointed, going for 13 tackles and getting in the mix on nearly every Houston offensive possession.
With first-option wideout Larry Fitzgerald sidelined with a sprained MCL and third-string receiver Early Doucet sitting out with an abdominal strain, undrafted rookie Stephen Williams will likely get more playing time to solidify a roster spot after an already impressive training camp.
Additional positions to watch will be cornerback, where Greg Toler continues to try and secure a starting spot, and offensive tackle, where RT Brandon Keith will be expected to improve upon his game one performance, in which he allowed Texans DE Mario Williams to break through to sack Leinart for a costly 12-yard loss.
- There are no unexpected injuries to report. WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee), WR Early Doucet (abdomen), WR Ed Gant (foot), LB Gerald Hayes (back), LB Reggie Walker (hamstring), TE Ben Patrick (knee) and S Aaron Rouse (whiplash-like symptoms) will all likely sit out Monday's game.
- Following Monday's game, the Cardinals have joint practice sessions with the Titans on August 25th and 26th in Tennessee.
Catch the game at 5 p.m. AZT on Channel 15 or Sports 620 KTAR for radio coverage.