It is finally time... Kind of. The Arizona Cardinals open up the 2016 preseason with a matchup against the Oakland Raiders.
Here are five things I'll be watching for in tonight's game.
How Does the OL Look?
Obviously we won't get a ton of looks as the Raiders and Cardinals starters will get only a couple of series, but we should be able to gauge how much work D.J. Humphries, Evan Mathis and A.Q. Shipley have to do.
It will be a lot of vanilla play calling and man on man situations, so we'll know if physically Mathis is healthy and where Humphries is in his development.
Brandon Williams against New Wide Receivers
Williams has been the talk of camp, even to the point where he has earned himself the starting position opposite Patrick Peterson. Yet, sometimes, in camp, you are able to cheat a little bit. This week will be nice test for Williams, as Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are strong route runners, so he'll, hopefully, get a little work guarding new receivers, running different routes on different plays.
J.J. Nelson is fast. Like, special fast, but he needs to be able to make some plays in the return game. If not it will move to Brittan Golden and Chris Hubert.
Golden and Hubert would probably like the opportunity to take away the return job from Nelson, because it would then lend them to making the 53 man roster.
Get the starters in and out, get them the 10-20 snaps they need and then get on the sideline and watch bad football and the young kids playing it. This team cannot afford a major injury, I don't care what depth you want to talk about.
Matt Barkley Show
Barkley, it seems, has an uphill climb to make the roster. He may be a talented player yet, but his impact on the game could be minimal, compared to a Josh Mauro or Chris Clemons (legal situation aside).
Barkley needs to show that he can push Drew Stanton to be the backup in 2016 and beyond, and running an efficient offense, getting his team into position to score, and making smart decisions will do that.