Pressure is essential to helping the back end hold up longer in coverage, the new additions to the Cards secondary may be equipped for this challenge. The addition of Antonio Cromartie, and rookie first round draft pick Deone Bucannon, along with star corner Patrick Peterson, and a host of other experienced DB’s have the talent to cover receivers. Although, one important note; star receiver Andre Johnson will not play in this game, which takes away that exciting match-up with Peterson. Cards should win the match-ups on the back end to lesser receivers and neutralize the pass happy Fitzpatrick.
The Cardinals defensive front will be shuffling in-and-out to get the right combinations that can apply the most pressure, and after two weeks of training camp, Sam Acho has been said to be a beast at getting to the quarterback. The usual suspects Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, and big Dan Williams will lead by example as they have been steady as a unit for some time now.
Switching to the other side of the ball there is really only one question. Who will block pro-bowl defensive end J.J. Watt? The offensive line will get most of the attention in this game from all of the analyst and critics, because this has been a struggling area for several years in Arizona. The massive match-up between LT Jared Veldheer and Watt will be like the clash of the titans playing out on the field. Cards filled that spot with their hulk-like lineman for big pass rushing days like this, and this one will not want to be missed.
The shuffling of the line has really been minimal with the exception of Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford splitting first team reps all week in camp, the right side has been owned all camp by Bobby Massie at RT and Paul Fanaika at RG, and no one has come close to taking their spots yet.
It is not known if number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney will play in this game, as new Texans coach Bill O’Brien has not released the current status of the highly anticipated rookie. But it’s going to be a good test to see if this first team unit can hold up at the point of attack with the Texans defensive front with or without Clowney in the line-up.
The first team will only play 15 plays according to coach Bruce Arians , when asked what he will be looking for in this game, ”looking for is if you can play smart, fast, and physical, that’s what will make me happy” said Arians earlier this week.
The first team will be evaluated on how smooth and fluently they can move the ball as a unit that has had some time together in this system, in other words there should be less miscommunications or what coach Arians like to call them “mental errors”. Quarterback Carson Palmer will be on the microscope in how he faces a pretty good defensive front, and can he tone down the interception machine he was a year ago.
After the first team is done this game becomes an all out war of players vying for positions on their respective teams, and that’s where the fun starts. Second unit QB Drew Stanton will play most of the second and part of the third, and rookie Logan Thomas will play some third and all of the fourth quarter. Other names to look at that can be stand-out players in this game, WR’s John Brown, Britten Golden, Walt Powell, RB Stephan Taylor, and DB Justin Bethel just to name a few.
The final score in these games really don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but you can best believe after seeing the two power house teams in the NFC West lose their pre-season openers, the Cards will want to make an early statement that those other teams better take notice at how serious they are at winning this division.
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