The Arizona Cardinals are a little more than two weeks away from their regular season opener against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, but there is still much that must happen between now and then. Week 3 of the preseason will be, and typically is the closest thing to regular season football as you get this time of year. Next week, the starters will play little and the reserves will battle it out for the final roster spots.
In Saturday night's game, we will see Kevin Kolb lead the first team offense probably into the third quarter before giving way to Rich Bartel and then the newly signed Brodie Croyle.
Going into tonight's game, let us focus on five key questions that hopefully will be answered before the end of the night.
1. Can Kevin Kolb and the Arizona offense get the ball into the end zone?
You can argue that it is not a primary concern the lack of touchdowns by the first team offense. Against Oakland, they got down inside the 10-yard line but didn't score. Last week against Green Bay, two of their three drives were over 10 plays and ended in Jay Feely field goals. However, it would go a long way for the fans to see Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells continue moving the offense down the field and also get a touchdown or two.
For the first time, Kolb will have an opportunity to direct the two-minute offense. this is also something we all want to see.
2. Can Beanie Wells repeat his "angry" running against San Diego?
Last week, after being criticized for not being willing to lower his shoulder pads and try to run through defenders, he showed much more intensity when running the ball. With Tim Hightower now a national story as a member of the Washington Redskins and rookie Ryan Williams on the shelf for the season after injuring his knee, there is a lot of pressure on Beanie to have a breakout season. Building on last week's performance will be part of that to gain momentum among fans and for himself to have success in the regular season.
3. Can the offensive line keep San Diego's edge rushers out of the backfield?
In their regular season matchup a year ago, Shuan Phillips terrorized Derek Anderson by way of Brandon Keith for three sacks. Keith showed improvement in pass protection as the season progressed until he went down with an injury. The pass protection from him and left tackle Levi Brown has been a big concern coming into the season, but no changes are planned, except for the possibility of Jeremy Bridges outplaying Keith and taking over the starting right tackle position. Can Keith show improvement this time around against the potent Charger pass rush?
4. Can O'Brien Schofield build on his performance last week and be a disruption?
Schofield finally made some noise on defense with a sack and a forced fumble last week. He put in extra work with flashcards to learn the plays so that he was able to stop thinking and react. It will be a big boost to have him repeat that success he had and build on it, as the team is going to be leaning on him to provide a spark in the pass rush on the outside.
5. Which bubble players will step up to avoid first cuts?
August 30 is the deadline to trim down rosters to 80 players. That means there are a few players that need to make their presence known so they can continue with the team. These are players like Isaiah Williams, Stephen Skelton, Jared Campbell, Duke Lemmens and others who were long shots from the beginning. If they want to have a shot at the 53-man roster, they are going to have to stand out.