When the Arizona Cardinals take the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers it won't be established veterans like Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Karlos Dansby or Adrian Wilson who ultimately decide the game and it's not their goal really to do much outside of stay away from injuries. While the final score these preseason games doesn't really matter, the performance of the young guys, and especially the rookies, is important. This is were guys step out from the shadows and proclaim that they're ready to this game on the biggest stage. The Cardinals aren't expecting a great deal from their rookie class this year but they should all get plenty of playing time tonight, with the obvious exception of Chris Wells. With that in mind, which rookie will have the best performance tonight?
Here's a look at the candidates.....
Cody Brown: Brown might be the favorite here just because he should get plenty of playing time and he's playing a position that is designed to make plays. Given the quality of the Steelers offensive line, you'd have to think that Brown should be able to turn the corner against one of the backup offensive tackles. He'll also play on just about every special teams unit so you'd have to think that three or four tackles and a sack isn't too far out of reach.
Rashad Johnson: RJ's impact will likely depend on how much the Steelers decide to throw the ball with their second and third team QB's. It'll be interesting to see if Bill Davis decides to creap Johnson towards the line of scrimmage or if he just lets him play a deep centerfield but either way Johnson should have the opportunity to capitalize on an ill-advised throw or two from inexperienced backup QB's like Dennis Dixon and Mike Reilly.
Greg Toler: Toler's an interesting choice here because he's had a pretty rough camp so far. He's trying to adjust to the speed and sophistication of the NFL game but facing the Steelers fourth or fifth receivers should be much easier than lining up across from Fitzgerald or Boldin. We all know he's got the athleticism to play the position but it'll be very interesting how he handles his first game experience and hopefully we'll get to see him respond to at least a couple play action passes and/or double moves.
Will Davis: Davis, like Toler, has had a rough camp but he'll get a chance to redeem himself tonight. Basically everything we said for Brown above, also applies to Davis.
LaRod Stephens-Howling: LSH will get plenty of opportunties to make a big impact. He'll not only get his share of snaps at tailback, thanks to Wells' absence, but he'll also see him returning kicks and possibly punts as well. Most of his snaps with the offense will probably come with the third team so he'll probably have to wait until the second half but he'll see enough field time to make a difference.
Herman Johnson and Trevor Canfield: We lumped Munster Johnson and Canfield together because it's hard to judge the play of the offensive line, especially the interior of the line (Canfield). Both should play with the third string so keep an eye on the right side of the offensive line during the second half.
Michael Ray Garvin: MRG gets some consideration despite his status as a UDFA because he'll see time as a returner. He should get several shots as a kick and punt returner.