After six long months there will be an NFL football game at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Arizona Cardinals open up their 2018 preseason ledger on Saturday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Both teams are looking to get extended looks at rookies and end-of-roster players looking to leave a mark. There are a few storylines heading into the preseason opener, today we take a look at our top three.
The Cardinals moved up in the first round of this April’s draft to select Josh Rosen. The former UCLA Bruin was believed by many to be the most NFL ready prospect at the quarterback position. His play during mini-camp and training camp have left many buzzing. Head coach Steve Wilks has stated that Sam Bradford is the starter but Rosen’s play prompted his coach to declare the rookie could play his way into a competition.
Rosen should play most of the first half and will go against first and second team players for the Chargers. It will be his first game action and will go a long way towards preparing the rookie. On talent and football IQ alone, the Cardinals quarterback has the potential to be special. On Saturday he takes the first step towards claiming his spot as the cornerstone of the franchise.
Can Cole Control the Line
Mason Cole is a rookie who played every offensive line position during his time at Michigan. He is now the presumed starting center for the Cardinals in 2018. The season-ending injury to A.Q. Shipley put Cole in the spotlight heading into the first preseason game. Shipley has been the starting center for the last two season, playing in every game during that time. Cole has been a model of stability himself, having not missed a game since his senior year in high school. He was a four-year starter at Michigan, something rare for offensive linemen.
The key will be how well Cole is able to anchor the line and properly call out protections before the snap. NFL defenses disguise their looks to confuse young players, often attempting to take advantage of inexperience at key positions. Cole will need to show he can quickly analyze the defensive fronts and can be an improvement in blocking over Shipley. The rookie struggled against larger opponents and questions have been raised about his ability to stay strong at the point of attack. If Cole can play well this season the offense is likely to follow suit.
Latest Cardinals News
- Miami Dolphins: Top-Three 2020 Games
- Super Bowl is Arians’ Coaching Culmination
- Win and In: Cardinals Need Victory for Playoff Berth
- Boxing Day Beating: 49ers Overpower Cardinals
- Tailspin: Cardinals Drop Second Game in a Row
The first game of the preseason leaves much to be desired with many starters either sitting out the game or playing under a tight play count. This leaves a chance for bottom of the roster players to earn a spot and more playing time. T.J. Logan is returning from an injury which wiped out his rookie season. He is the lead man on kickoff returns but finds himself stuck in the back of the pack at running back. The situation is fluid, but the initial depth chart released by the team shows Logan fourth at the position.
Listed as the primary backup at running back is rookie Chase Edmonds. Edmonds has shown flashes of brilliance during training camp and Saturday will be a chance to build his case. Behind Edmonds is fan favorite D.J. Foster. The former Sun Devils playmaker signed with the Cardinals during the 2017 season after beginning on the Patriots practice squad. Foster is a contributor in the passing game and can line up all over the field for Mike McCoy’s offense. Logan, Edmonds, and Foster will need to find their footing and make a push to get a piece of the action behind the bell cow that is David Johnson.
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) August 6, 2018
Ultimately the score on Saturday is meaningless. Players and coaches will be finding their timing and getting comfortable with they see on the field. For coach Wilks and the rest of his staff it is the first chance to see how the team competes, and who deserves more time on the field. It will be nice to see the crowd roar again in University of Phoenix Stadium and to see the Cardinals take the field.