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Cardinals vs Chargers: 10 Things to Watch for

It's game day and the Arizona Cardinals are set to take on the San Diego Chargers only hours from now. The Chargers have come to Arizona, hoping to establish themselves as one of the most dominant teams in the NFL in 2009 okay they're just hoping to take part in this preseason match up and evaluate rookies. Either way it's football action and more importantly, it's Cardinals football. So before you watch the game later today, here's 10 things to watch for during the game in no particular order...

  1. The Cardinals return to University of Phoenix Stadium. It's been 8 long months since the Cardinals last played at home and the reunion should be great. The atmosphere should be intense as it always is. We might just get a glimpse of those banners that get hung up.
  2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie vs Antonio Cromartie. The cousins match up against each other for the first time in their careers. Although it's only a preseason game, can we expect some family rivalry to happen? Both want to establish themselves as two of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and they're getting close.
  3. Shawne Merriman vs Mike Gandy. As mentioned yesterday, Gandy needs to step his game up, especially against the top pass rushers in the league. Merriman also has something to prove as he missed the entire 2008 season with an injured knee. Will the Gandy that was solid all 2008 show up, or will the Gandy that got owned in the Super Bowl show up to this game?
  4. Kurt Warner's return to being 100%. We saw last week what the recovered hip was doing to Warner. He was seen grimacing at times, and even had a limp as he walked away from an interview. The Cardinals success for 2009 is riding on Warner's hip as of now. He will likely play to the second quarter, and the Cardinals will need him to stay as healthy as possible.
  5. Lyle Sendlein vs Jamal Williams. Lyle already faced a tough tackle in Casey Hampton last week, and things don't get much easier as he faces a huge Jamal Williams today. This is a very interesting match up to watch for, as Lyle has been regarded as too small at times.
  • Gerald Hayes vs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. In the playoffs last year, the Cardinals gave Gerald Hayes one job and one job only; mirror the running back. After re-watching last weeks game, I noticed that on every run play, Hayes had his eyes always on the running back. I'm not positive about this, but it could be a possibility that Hayes job in '09 is to mirror the running back every game. Watch for this.
  • How LaRod Stephens-Howling handles his second game. Much of us were anticipating LSH's first game, and although he showed some promise, he virtually did nothing. It may have been the bright lights,or that it was his first ever game, but this week, LSH gets a chance to not only run the ball, but we should see him return some kicks as well.
  • The battle at the tight end position. It's been an on going question mark on the offense for years, and Whiz hopes to solve it this year with the 5 tight ends that are currently on roster. All possess their own skills, but no one can multitask. Only one tight end needs to stand out to be named the starter, but which one will it be?
  • Chris Beanie Wells finally in action? We thought today was going to be Wells first NFL game, but after aggravating his ankle again in practice, it's now a toss up. If he does suit up, and actually play, then this has to be one of the things to watch for. It should also be interesting to see how he does against a talented defense in the Chargers.
  • The rookies on defense. Last week, many of us expected much more from the 4 rookies that were added to the defense through the draft. The only player that stood out was cornerback Greg Toler. When the second and third string defense hits the field, watch for Cody Brown, Rashad Johnson, Will Davis, and Toler to make any sort of impact on this game.
  • Well there you have it...10 things to watch for in today's game versus the Chargers. The best thing to watch for is just seeing our redbirds in action. What are you looking most forward to seeing? Is there any interesting match ups? Or are you looking forward to seeing the Chargers in action?