The Arizona Cardinals opened their 2018 exhibition season defeating the Los Angeles Chargers 24-17 in front of an announced crowd of 62,328 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The Cards will hit the road next week to play the Saints in New Orleans on Friday night.
Here are five things we learned Saturday night.
1. Rookie Rosen…Arguably the most intriguing storyline was the debut of first-round pick Josh Rosen who is clearly Arizona’s quarterback of the future, and possibly the present, depending on if the Cardinals’ offensive line can keep Sam Bradford upright this season. In fairness, the rookie from UCLA got little help from the run game, in protection or from a number of low snaps working out of the shotgun. However, Rosen’s pocket presence, command of the offense and arm strength were all evident in his near two quarters of action. He finished 6-13 for 41 yards and was sacked once. “I thought I did some good things, I did some bad things,” Rosen said. “But for the most part I thought it was a step in the right direction.”
2. 28 For 31…As expected, David Johnson didn’t play much but anyone who’s a Cards’ fan had to be pleased with the small sample size they saw. DJ, who hadn’t seen any live game action since breaking bones in his wrist in Arizona’s season opener against Detroit back on September 10, 2017, carried just twice on the Bird Gang’s opening drive but netted 28 yards (14 yards on each run). He also looked both quick in the hole and explosive at the second level once he reached the Chargers’ secondary.
3. Happy Homecoming…Christian Kirk grew up a Cards’ fan. Saturday he took the field for his hometown team and displayed the same game-breaking skills he flashed at Saguaro taking a punt back 38 yards the first time he touched the ball in the NFL. “It was so much fun,” Kirk said of his debut. “Just to go out there and take the field for the first time and put it all together. It was an amazing experience.” He also caught two passes for nine yards.
4. Leaky Line…The Cards’ second-team offensive line struggled in both pass protection and the run game. Backup center Daniel Munyer’s shotgun snaps were consistently low or off-target throwing off the offensive rhythm. Arizona mustered only 28 yards after Johnson departed midway through the first drive of the game. As a team they averaged only 2.8 yards per attempt.
5. Night Cap(i)…On a night where the Cards’ front four played relatively well, one player who stood out was defensive end Cap Capi. The second-year player from Akron, who was in Cards’ camp last year, registered three sacks (including a fourth quarter forced fumble) and showed nice quickness off the edge getting into the backfield. He’s a long shot to make the roster but played well when given the opportunity against the Chargers.