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Cardinals vs. Texans: Execution, young players stand out in first preseason win

It was about as good across the board as you can expect with a preseason opener.

Christian Petersen

With the 32-0 win the Arizona Cardinals had to open the preseason, things went about as well as you can expect and hope. They came out of the game "basically injury-free," they had a quick start offensively, they forced a three-and-out and a turnover on defense early on and they had young players shine.

"I was very pleased with the way we started, stayed focused," head coach Bruce Arians said to the media following the game.

Offensively, the first team offense was on the field for one drive to start the game. They put together an eight play, 79-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald. Palmer was perfect, throwing 5/5 for 84 yards. There was a 21-yard pass play to John Brown and a 38-yard play to Rob Housler.

That was all they needed.

It was such quick work that Carson Palmer joked that he was just "in and out" of the shower after the game. "I didn't sweat," he said.

The effective quarterback play continued. Drew Stanton was 11/17 for 152 yards and a touchdown pass to Jaron Brown. Logan Thomas played the entire second half and was 11/12 for 113 yards and a touchdown pass to Dan Buckner.

But the real story is the play of the young players.

Third round pick John Brown, second-year undrafted receiver Jaron Brown, fourth-round quarterback Logan Thomas, undrafted rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro and second-year linebacker Kevin Minter were all key in the win.

The Brown receivers got significant playing time because Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn both sat out with injuries. John Brown had five catches for 87 yards and drew a 38-yard pass interference penalty. He was targeted a total of 10 times and might have had at least one touchdown had the ball been thrown better by Drew Stanton. Jaron Brown had just two catches for 15 yards, but one went for a touchdown. Sixth rounder Walt Powell also had three catches for 74 yards.

The play of John Brown at this point should surprise nobody. He has been talked about all of the offseason and all of training camp.

Arians expected nothing less.

"You knew John Brown was going to do what John Brown does, and Jaron Brown," he said. "Those two guys have been doing it every single day, so that doesn't surprise me whatsoever."

Brown, who said he "wasn't nervous at all" for the game, "knew that (he) had to step up" with Floyd and Ginn out, and Fitzgerald only going to play a few snaps. His first catch was a great play. It came on a third and 16 following a sack.

Palmer didn't hesitate to throw it to him.

"Once I saw the defensive back drop down, I knew the ball was coming to me," Brown said. "I kind of bobbled it, but I kept my eye on it to make sure I caught it. That's something I'll always remember."

Kicker Chandler Catanzaro was given all the kicking duties on Saturday.

He made the most of it.

He hit three extra points from 33 yards (as is the case in the first two weeks of the preseason to test it out). He three field goals from 32, 28 and 25 yards. Every single one of his kickoffs went into the end zone and two went out the back.

Houston started three of their drives inside their own 15-yard line. Arians said he "really kicked the ball well, especially on his kickoffs."

"He was perfect and I liked his demeanor," he said.

All eyes were on quarterback Logan Thomas in the second half.

He was drafted in the fourth round with the hope that he could develop into a franchise quarterback. There have been questions about his accuracy, but in his first game, he was great. He was 11/12 and made some very nice throws into small windows.

Arians said "his poise was outstanding."

When asked if Thomas played better than he had in any practice, Arians said "by far."

"He had a nice, calm demeanor," he explained. "We kept things he likes and knows. He threw some balls in there that made me hold my breath, but the guys caught them.

"He was very, very good."

Thomas noted that there was one practice when he was 16/16, but was pleased with his play.

"I felt comfortable," he told reporters after the game. "Don't get me wrong, I messed up on my fair share of stuff, but I felt good and felt relaxed; a lot more relaxed than I thought I was going to be going into the game."

Even linebacker Kevin Minter got in on the action in limited playing time. In the defense's second series, he got his hand on a ball that Antonio Cromartie picked off.

All in all, there wasn't much to complain about. They had young players step up, they saw solid play from the first team offense and defense. They put the ball in the end zone. They took the ball away. They didn't turn the ball over.

After one week of exhibition ball, the present and the future look bright.