Well that game was a lot more enjoyable. Rather than debating which player played the least bad, we'll be able to facilitate a conversation about who moved up the depth chart and who secured a spot on the 53 man roster, due to their positive play. Unfortunately, the perpetual John Skelton vs. Kevin Kolb debate will ensue, as neither man got enough offensive plays to secure the starting job, so that debate will continue for at least another week. However, the depth chart for some of the other positions seems to have cleared up a bit at the conclusion of the Cardinal's victory over the Oakland Raiders.
Hit the jump for some of the key position battles effected by Friday's game
Inside Linebacker: Boy, has Stewart Bradley answered his critics. Despite his solid play the past two seasons, Paris Lenon is getting older and his level of play will, in all likelihood, decline. Fortunately, the strong insider linebacker position next to Daryl Washington looks to be in very good hands. Stewart Bradley was all over the field in the first two quarters, which should have all but secured his position at the top of the depth chart.
In other inside linebacking news, Reggie Walker had himself a whale of a game. Hopefully, Walker has taken that next step, and will play like the linebacker the Cardinal's coaching staff believes he can be. Quan Sturdivant also had a very nice game in his second half work, and as expected Daryl Washington played like the rock he is in Ray Horton's defense.
Right Tackle: Remember earlier, when I said we could have a debate about which player played better, well right tackle (really the whole offensive line for that matter) is the exception. D'Anthony Batiste did not have a very good game at all, to put it lightly. His struggles with in pass protection specifically led to many necessary hits on Kolb. Him and Adam Snyder were beat handily on defensive line stunts, which (coupled with a collapsed pocket) lead to intentional grounding and a safety and consecutive plays.
Fourth Round draft choice Bobby Massie, on the other hand, played much more respectably, by my analysis. I kept my eye on him in the second half and when I was watching he had a good base and was a force in the run game. Usually, if I don't notice you on the offensive line, it means you're doing a good job. Massie definitely improved his standing after his performance in this game.
Defensive Back: In my opinion, the defensive backs were the highlight of the game for the Cardinals. Three players in particular looked very sharp: Adrian Wilson (as expected), Jamell Fleming, and Justin Bethel. During his time on the field, Wilson was seemingly in every single tackle or breaking up every single pass. Jamell Fleming set out to prove why the Card's brass selected him in the third round, and did so effectively. Fleming was a force in tackling, and was able to put himself in a good position to defend most of the passes thrown at his man.
Last, but certainly not least, is Justin Bethel. Quite the game in front of the fans for the Presbyterian defensive back. Bethel was able to block two kicks, one punt and one extra point, as well as scoop and score a touchdown on his blocked punt. That's three blocked kicks in three games. If nothing else, Bethel will be a great draft selection in the sixth round just from his special team's contributions. Bethel also played relatively well in coverage and supporting the run game on defense.
Other Notable Standouts: Ryan Williams demonstrated his high level of explosiveness in his first game back, going for 25 yards and a touchdown. Great to see Ryan healthy again; him and Beanie Wells should make for an outstanding backfield combination.
Rob Housler also was very effective when he was on the field. In the pass game, Housler hauled in a team high three catches, for 26 yards. However, it was in the run game that Housler impressed me the most. Everyone knows Housler can fly and has good hands, but on Friday he was a integral piece in the run game, holding his own when necessary, and delivering important blocks in other situations, such as Williams 15 yard run.