The Cardinals entered their second game of the preseason with a number of boxes to check. They made sure they ended the game with a lot of those boxes checked. The starting offense impressed on their only drive. They were aided by two penalties but scored a touchdown on a 14 play, 70-yard drive.
While some impressed, there were a few duds in the game. Will Holden was one. Who else shined?
Bynes was everywhere on Saturday. He had a team high 5.5 tackles and forced a fumble in the third quarter. With Scooby Wright, Deone Bucannon, Haason Reddick, and Karlos Dansby all ahead of him on the roster, Bynes made sure that the coaching staff did not forget his name. Bynes will have to show he can play special teams if he wants to convince the team to carry a fifth inside linebacker, but he took a nice first step against Oakland.
Nkemdiche was once again a force. He had 2.5 tackles on the stat sheet, with one and an assist going for a loss. He was dominating his man at the point of attack, however, making an impact on the Raiders run game while he was on the field. Nkemdiche has slowly worked his way into first team reps, but he has been impressive in every opportunity he has had in the preseason.
First Team Offense
Carson Palmer finished 4/8, 39 yards, and a touchdown. David Johnson had three carries for 16 yards. The unit was aided by two penalties, one a pass interference call, the other an illegal formation on a Phil Dawson kick. But Palmer made the right reads, and his arm looked sharp. Palmer was given plenty of time to throw the football and took advantage. For a unit that struggled last preseason, they were sharp and on point for their only drive.
Richie Leone/Matt Wile
The Punter battle got interesting. Bruce Arians brought in another punter for a workout this week but stated the team was justing doing its homework. Both Leone and Wile took notice and had a very strong game. Both guys punted only once, but both impressed. Leone had his early in the third quarter. He punted it 61 yards deep, but the lack of hang time and poppycock third team coverage gave him a 45-yard net. Wile had his next shot, and one upped Leone. Wile sent it 65 yards deep with a net of 56-yards.
Wile did manage the kickoff game as well. He had five kickoffs, with all five in the end zone, and two for touchbacks. With Dawson playing in the game, I expected him to handle that duty, but could the Cardinals be using Wile to keep Dawson fresh? Or is there something else going on?
Stanton looked crisp, and really backed up Arians support of him this week. He made the right reads and finished the game 11/15, for 112 yards and a score, as well as a 116.5 QBR. Much of the talk about a potential backup battle was squashed after his play. Stanton was elusive twice on his scoring drive, once by barely evading a blitzing safety, and the other by running out of the pocket to throw a cross body throw to an open Troy Niklas. The Cardinals could be looking at carrying three quarterbacks if both Stanton and Gabbert continue at their paces.
The Cardinals committed three accepted penalties all night. Will Holden was flagged for one of the three, and a second that was declined. The fifth round rookie struggled, often times forcing Blaine Gabbert to leave the pocket. Holden should have a roster spot with his draft status, but in the NFL if someone is better than you, you will see the waiver wire.
Every Corner after Tramon Williams
Williams missed a tackle allowing for a big play. But besides that, he ran stride for stride with Cordarrelle Patterson on a sideline route, answering some of the concerns about his speed. Both he and Brandon Williams looked fine in their time on the field, but once the third team corners came in, it was not nearly as pretty. I’m not sitting here expecting them to be perfect, but with open roster spots ahead of them, no one rose up to make their claim for a spot. It may be time for Arians and Keim to see what else is out there.
Ross isn’t a loser in the traditional sense here. He looked just fine as a receiver. His returning left a lot to be desired. Currently number two in line for the return job, Ross fair caught a returnable punt and tripped and fell on a 14-yard kickoff return. In order for him to make the roster, the team will want to see something from him on Special Teams. Ross will have a few more opportunities to prove he is capable and deserving of that spot.
As usual, we saw some glimpses of the rookie Ellington. But more often than not, we saw Ellington go down far too easily. Ellington carried the rock seven times for 20 yards (2.85 YPC). Compare that to Elijhaa Peny who carried 14 times for 54 yards (3.85 YPC). Ellington will likely stick around until TJ Logan returns from his wrist injury, but after that, we could see the end of his Cardinal tenure.
The man calling the plays. Leftwich had a good balance of run and pass, and all the quarterbacks executed them. For a guy who just became a Quarterbacks coach, Byron could be a quick climber up the NFL coaching ranks.
Any winners or losers that I missed? Be sure to let me know in the comments below.