The time has finally come for the Arizona Cardinals to play some preseason football.
The team is in Green Bay, Wisc., for some Friday night football, as they’ll take on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in their preseason opener.
This will be the 22nd preseason meeting between the Cardinals and Packers, and to this point, it’s been all Packers. They’ve won 15 of the previous 21 games, including seven of nine at Lambeau Field.
This game is very significant, not only because it’s the Cardinals first taste of action outside of hitting their own teammates in training camp, but because it’s Bruce Arians’ first game as Cardinals head coach.
It’s been a long offseason, but a quick one, ever since Arians arrived in town, and in just a few short hours, he, along with the rest of us, will see just how prepared the Cardinals are for the road ahead of them.
A lot of spots are up for grabs on this team, and tonight will give Arians a good sense of who to look out for as he’s compiling his master list of starters.
The starters tonight will run about 15 plays or so, according to Arians. There’s a possibility that number could stretch depending on how well a particular drive could be going near the end of the quarter, if things are moving along at that well a pace.
This will be a chance for quarterback Carson Palmer to get a feel for his new team, his new offense and to get some valuable reps in before giving way to Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley and Caleb TerBush.
There are battles along the offensive line to be had, especially at the tackle positions, as Levi Brown and Nate Potter fight it out on the left side and Eric Winston and Bobby Massie duke it out on the right side. Tonight will show who wins Round One in the preseason.
With Ryan Williams staying back in Arizona to stay off his irritated knee, look for Rashard Mendenhall to get his allotment of snaps from Palmer and crew, while the group of Alfonso Smith, Stepfan Taylor and possibly Andre Ellington will get the rest of the work on the night.
Ellington underwent the concussion protocol this week after complaining of having a stiff neck. We’ll see if he gets any playing time. If not, it’s more of a load on Smith and Taylor’s shoulders.
The defense should be prepared to see a lot of the newest Packer, quarterback Vince Young tonight. There’s not telling how long Rodgers will play, if he even plays at all, so this will be a good primer for the defense to handle Young and his mobility.
It’s smart for Arians to place inside linebacker Daryl Washington at third-string, because that way he can get as much work out of Washington as he needs tonight.
After all, Washington will miss the first four games of the NFL season anyway, so why not slide him down the chart, let those who are going to play in his stead play now, and get Washington as many reps as possible, considering he’s going to miss a lot during the first quarter of the season.
I’m guessing what Arians is looking to accomplish tonight against the Packers, or see, is smart, disciplined and organized football in all three phases of the game.
Arians said earlier in training camp that the Cardinals want to be at the top of the league in takeaways and be at the bottom of the league in giveaways. Arians will be looking for the Cardinals to win these battles as well tonight.
Perhaps the most important thing of all, Arians wouldn’t want to see any major injuries befall any of his players, although he really has no control over that in a game that’s as violent as football is.
Things happen in the game of football. He just doesn’t want those things to happen to his players.