Steve Wilks talked before and then again after Saturday’s preseason opener that he wanted to see guys “separate themselves” so that they could earn spots on the roster. As he noted post-game, some did and some didn’t.
The roster won’t be solidified after a single preseason game – Wilks’ first, albeit not regular-season, as a head coach after the Cards beat the Chargers. But it did seem like there were things to notice already.
Wilks and OC Mike McCoy are going to run the ball. When you have David Johnson – who looked spectacular in his two carries – you should run the ball. But Wilks sent an early message to his team, his offensive line and future opponents as he used Sam Bradford as mostly a facilitator for handoffs on the veteran quarterback’s only drive. Not that Bradford can’t pass, but that the Cards would prefer the impose-our-will kind of offense. It may or may not work through the season, but it bears watching.
Some other things to watch and notice after the game (and I’ll try and get this done quickly since it’s so late):
Defensively, the first unit did OK in its two drives, albeit with starting Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers sitting out. There were a couple of near-miss sacks – one by Chandler Jones – that the Cardinals are going to want to have once the regular season begins.
The first-unit offensive line was solid. The second unit was not. Center Daniel Munyer struggled with getting shotgun snaps back to Josh Rosen, undercutting the rookie quarterback’s first game. The whole line had issues, and played from the first quarter all the way into the fourth, which in the preseason usually means coaches wanted to prove a point. Whomever sticks around from that group needs to improve.
No one really seemed to stand out in the battle for the No. 2 receiver. Greg Little did almost come down with one incredible catch from Rosen, although he was ruled out of bounds. It was tough to judge receivers when the passing game seemed out of sorts much of the night.
If Bené Benwikere and Brandon Williams are in a battle for a third cornerback spot, Benwikere was the one doing the separating Saturday. He had a very good game, causing a fumble and making a couple of big plays. Williams struggled, missing a tackle that led to a big play and committing three penalties, including two pass interference calls.
Cap Capi, the star of 2017 training camp, was signed after this year’s camp started. And all the defensive end did was total three sacks and force a fumble. No one does the preseason like Cap. We’ll see if he can make inroads on making the roster this time around.
Jeremy Cash wouldn’t be a starter if he made the roster, but he had a good chance to stick around as a backup, a special teams player and an emotional spark. We don’t know the extent of his knee injury yet, but it didn’t look good.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how this lowering-the-helmet penalty plays out. Many Cardinals were in disbelief on the sideline every time it was called.
Undrafted Princeton rookie Charles Kanoff hit a 48-yard bomb and threw his first touchdown pass, and the more you watch him, the more you think he’s got a chance to stick somewhere. The way Larry Fitzgerald embraced him after his TD pass – Fitz often talks to Kanoff at practice and they’ve developed a relationship, and Fitz was genuinely happy.
The Cards are off Sunday (hey, that’s technically today already!) and then resume the last week of training camp Monday – which just happens to be the final open practice of camp.