On Thursday nights Hall of Fame game against the Cowboys, I saw a few tidbits that I thought was interesting. Against second and third stringers, a few players stood out to me, including second year center, Cole Toner. He didn’t seem to give up much ground against the Cowboys defensive line, and was key to the Andre Ellington scoring drive.
Cole Toner is officially the second-string center to A.Q. Shipley, and he made a case to stay on the roster with his position versatility. To me, Toner seemed very strong at quarterback-ing the offensive line. There were no miscues from the snap count, he held up very well in pass protection, and made a few holes for Ellington and Kerwynn Williams.
Could Toner be the heir apparent to A.Q. Shipley if the Cards don’t bring him back for the 2018-2019 season?
So far, I have seen promising development from a player who has never played center, and that includes his Harvard days. Like I’ve mentioned before, the players who played in the Hall of Fame game were essentially second and third stringers, but that’s not something to take lightly. With a little more development, we could see Toner become a solid option anywhere on the line.
1. Boy, did Robert Nkemdiche make the Dallas frontline look bad on a couple of plays. He blew through Joe Looney on his way to Darren McFadden, and even though he didn’t get the tackle, it ended up being a 3-yard loss. It almost makes me remember why we drafted Nkemdiche in the first place. It really helps that Nkemdiche is probably just as strong as advertised. In the interior, I saw Nkemdiche and Olsen Pierre making some nice pushes to make the quarterback and running back uncomfortable. Which brings me to my next point:
2. The team speed on defense seemed effortless, minus some miscues. I saw Brandon Williams get beat on a couple passes, but his makeup speed on the interception was exactly WHY the Cardinals drafted him so highly last year. Same with Harlan Miller, someone who is fighting a crowded backfield. Miller didn’t seem overpowered, but maybe corner isn’t the position for him. His speed isn’t there, but if he continues to make strides, who knows, maybe he becomes a top-flight corner.
3. Haason Reddick and Budda Baker, what can I say. Bruce Arians has been saying all offseason that they wanted to improve their overall defensive scheme, and that’s what it looks like with both guys. I don’t mean to step on other people’s toes, but this may be the first year we see rookies play extended time in their first year. Who knows.
4. Blaine Gabbert was obviously showing some major poise in the pocket, but it seems to me that maybe his biggest obstacle will be whether he can make an impact against better competition. But Gabbert really showed up, and had a substantial impact on the first two possessions by the offense.
5. We were all expecting Scooby Wright to make an impact, but that comes halfheartedly. All things considered, I was expecting more from the inside linebacker group but injuries have been a factor also.
6. If not for a dropped catch, Blaine Gabbert maybe could of have a perfect game, and Marquis Bundy just seems to keep having drop after drop. One second he’s damn impressive on catching difficult catches, next, he’s having a tough time making some simple catches. If he wants to make the team, he needs to make those catches.
7. That big hit on T.J. Logan seems to have maybe put a damper on what seemed to be a bright spot for the special teams, something that hasn’t been there since 2011. Speedy recovery, T.J., hopefully we get him back for the regular season.
8. The two new defensive tackles, David Moala and Peli Anau, seemed to really play up to their strengths. I don’t know if the Cardinals need more help on the line, but it’s nice to have depth.
9. Talking about that big hit on T.J. Logan, I almost felt the hit from my tv stand. The pop was thanks to Jameill Showers, a quarterback turned safety over the offseason. If I’m wanting a special teams guy, maybe a waiver-wire addition of Showers would be beneficial. The guy obviously isn’t scared of contact.
10. Box scores are dumb to play by in the beginning of the preseason, but I took the loss hard. To me, a couple missed field goals by Matt Wile and Richie Leone made me get anxious for some reason. Hopefully, this is a learning experience for both, and we get the best punter out of the situation. Or maybe, neither make it, and we end up signing a waiver wire guy. Me personally, I was very intrigued by Sam Irwin-Hill from Dallas.