For the Arizona Cardinals, they will enter their third preseason game of 2012 when they host the Oakland Raiders tonight at 7:00 PM MST. So far, the Cardinals are 0-2 this preseason and have many questions to answer both to their coaches and the fans with this next matchup.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt needs to see some sort of improvement. As do the fans. Otherwise, this season could already go into a spiral before it has even begun. Here are five things to look out for as the Cardinals take on the Raiders.
How Long Will The Starters Play?:
Coach Ken Whisenhunt mentioned at training camp that the starters could go all game if need be. The coaches are looking for the first units both on defense and offense to step it up and if they can't do that, then they will never leave the game. Unfortunately, that means less time for the undrafted guys to prove themselves on the field. Still, it will be interesting to see if Whiz holds true to his word or if he decides to play the lower tier guys more than he thought.
How The Quarterbacks Perform:
This has been the major storyline all offseason long. Will Kevin Kolb finally step to the plate now that he is getting another start? Will he even be able to complete more than two passes? Can he lead his team to a score in some fashion or another? If he fails, look for John Skelton to come in and try and show why Adam Schefter's report had some validity. If they both play poorly, then, I guess we will get to hear some calls for #Lindsanity (Ryan Lindley).
Can The Defense Get Pressure On The QB?:
Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield have been named the presumed starters at the outside linebacker positions for the Cardinals heading into 2012. They both fared well last season, but against the Chiefs, both of them looked invisible. Although it is doubtful that Schofield plays against the Raiders with a leg injury, look for Acho, Quentin Groves and Brandon Williams to do their best job of attacking Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor. We already know Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett will.
The Return Of Lil' Sweetness:
Whisenhunt also announced at training camp that Ryan Williams will likely play tonight against the Raiders. As I watched him at training camp, I was astounded by his cutback abilities and effortless speed. Can he show everyone why he was regarded so highly in the 2011 draft? I would think so and I sure hope so.
Health, Health, Health:
The most important aspect of this game is keeping all of the players healthy. There are already a few nicked up players that won't be participating already, so the Cards need as much depth as they can maintain. Ryan Williams hopefully won't get anymore knee soreness and both of the quarterbacks will need to stay upright. If all goes as planned, the Cardinals will not only win the game and show everyone that they might be decent next year, but they will keep everyone off the PUP as well.
Honorable Mention: Keep an eye on D'Anthony Batiste at right tackle tonight. He is replacing Jeremy Bridges in the hopes that the pass protection will improve.