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Cardinals vs. Broncos: What to watch in the preseason finale

No starters, but plenty to watch for.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals take on the Denver Broncos on the road for the team's preseason finale. It is the final opportunity for players to catch the eyes of their coaches and make an impression so they can make the roster, or at least land on another NFL team's roster.

The final preseason game is always a little different. No starters will play (although technically one will, as linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will get some action), so it isn't really a dress rehearsal. It is an audition.

What are some things to watch tonight?

The quarterback battle

We don't know if it is a battle for the final 53 or a battle for the practice squad, but all eyes will be on Phillip Sims and Logan Thomas. Sims gets the start and Thomas will come in for the second half. Thomas led the team on a game-winning drive on Sunday against the Raiders. The coaches will be looking for consistency in play and in reads. Do they do the right things? Are they looking in the right places? It won't be about the biggest plays, especially if the big play was a result of luck.

Earl Watford at right tackle

With Bradley Sowell moving to left tackle to start, Earl Watford gets a chance to show what he can do. With the pending suspension of Bobby Massie, the team must decide whether Sowell or Watford will start in his place. Watford showed some good stuff against Oakland, getting in the game when Khalil Mack was still out there and keeping him away from the quarterback.

Chris Johnson and Sean Weatherspoon

It will be the first time since 2009 that running back Chris Johnson plays in a preseason finale, but this season he really has no choice. He got injured in his first practice and did not play in the other preseason games. He is expected to get 10-12 carries. What does he have left in the tank? He isn't assured a spot on the roster with David Johnson, Andre Ellington and other young running backs, and if Kerwynn Williams lands the kick return job, then his spot on the roster will be secure. Johnson needs to show some flashes of why the Cardinals brought him in.

Weatherspoon, despite a healthy offseason, is bringing up all those durability concerns  there were because of his missed time. Will we finally get to see the dynamic play he is expected to bring when healthy?

Lyle Sendlein

Sendlein will start at center, as he is the backup center for now. However, he could overtake current starter A.Q. Shipley. Is a preseason finale the way to do it? And will the Cardinals keep Lyle on the roster if he is just going to be a backup? He does not offer the versatility off the bench other guys could.

Pressure, pressure, pressure

Between rookies Markus Golden and Shaq Riddick, combined with second year player Kareem Martin, can they generate pressure without the blitz? Golden has been around the ball a lot and Martin has shown some good stuff. Riddick is the player to watch. He has the body type and speed to become a very good pass rusher. He is playing a new position and has only had a few reps all offseason. But can someone get to the quarterback?


What will you be watching?