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What to watch in the Cardinals vs Vikings game

The Arizona Cardinals were dominant in their preseason-opening win over the Houston Texans, but Week 2 presents a new set of questions and a possible new set of problems.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing soothes concerns for a team more than a complete and utter pounding of an opponent in every facet of the game -- OK, maybe not running the ball, but still.

That's what happened in Game 1 of the preseason for the Arizona Cardinals, as they thrashed the woeful Houston Texans to the tune of 32-0, looking not just good, but downright dominant in doing so.

Last preseason saw a similar start defensively in Games 1 and 2, but the offense was not quite up to snuff in those games. Then reality set in in Game 3 when injuries and poor play would outline a slow start to the 2013 season.

Now in Year 2 of the Bruce Arians offense, and with Todd Bowles looking like the next great defensive coordinator in the NFL, expectations are raised.

When you look at the Minnesota Vikings, they offer a different look offensively than what the Cardinals saw from the fairly under-developed Texans offense (who were also without their two best weapons in running back Arian Foster and wideout Andre Johnson).

Find the pressure

Week 1 was not the best barometer of what the Cardinals can do in terms of pure pass-rushers, as the Texans offensive first team was less than stellar in terms of putting up a fight. And while the Cardinals did end their first-team offensive work with an interception, they were unable to create any quarterback pressures in three passing attempts by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Again, that's not even close to being enough of a sample size to glean any useful information, but who is going to get pressure on the quarterback is a question that needs to be asked. Hopefully we get a little bit more time to figure it out this week.

Continue to dominate in the run game

While there are questions about the front four, five or six (who knows what Bowles will to do) against the pass, there should be no question of what the front seven will do when the Vikings run the ball: shut everything down.

Whether or not the best running back in football, Adrian Peterson, plays is really a non-issue. If they want to be successful in the NFC West, the Cardinals have to shut down any running game they face.  Continue that on Saturday.

Let's see it, young bucks (on defense)

The 2014 draft class's Game 1 performance was discussed Monday, and they left a little to be desired in terms of results in their first showing, including 2013 second-round pick but on-field rookie, starting inside linebacker Kevin Minter.

Game 2 is here, and hopefully the plays they almost made in Game 1 turn into plays they make this time around.

Growth from Game 1 to Game 2 is really all you should be looking for in terms of young guys like Minter, safety Deone Bucannon, defensive end Kareem Martin and outside linebacker Alex Okafor to be more precise, but you also want to see them start to stack good plays together.

Establish the run game

Any semblance of a push out of the first-, second- or third-team offensive lines would be a good start at this point.

The Cardinals will have to be able to run the ball some time this season, whether it is in Game 1 or Game 19 -- the Super Bowl -- and it really needs to start early.

While the offensive line did a mostly excellent job in pass protection, finding a rhythm in the run game and showing it can be a threat is going to be more and more important as the season goes along.

Get Coop healthy or get him reps (or both)

No one player can define the success of the Cardinals offensive line quite as much as left guard Jonathan Cooper.  The seventh pick in the 2013 NFL Draft is starting to raise eyebrows (in a bad way) among a certain segment of the fan base. While it is too early to designate Cooper as a bust, it is never too early to be concerned with the lack of physicality with which he has played.

If he's not healthy, then rest him and get him healthy.  If he is going to play, then continue the game plan from preseason Week 1 and leave him on the field with the first- and second-team offenses to get him as many reps as possible.  If it is rust, then the only way that gets rectified is with playing time. So, if he's healthy, get him on the field and let him run.

It may be a case of Cooper starting to feel healthy as he plays well. Maybe that limp disappears, maybe he starts to dominate the opposition again. It can't hurt -- unless he is hurt.

What will you be watching in this game?