Preseason football is almost upon us and I, for one, am starting to get really excited. Not only will we get to see how new head coach Steve Wilks handles in-game situations and the playing time of his currently very large roster, but we will get to see how certain players perform on the field. Yes, many of us have seen them or read about them at camp, but this will be the chance to see them go against other players that they may be unfamiliar with.
The first guy I will be watching is obvious: Josh Rosen. The rookie quarterback isn’t being asked to start real games right away, so hopefully the pressure to go out there and do too much isn’t there. But with him not being the starter, that could mean we don’t get to see a lot of him this season (cue the Sam Bradford injury jokes). That’s why it will be exciting to him get plenty of snaps throughout the preseason, starting with the first game against the Chargers.
Wilks wouldn’t commit to how many snaps or quarters Rosen will play, but he figures to get enough playing time to at least get a good idea of the progress he has made in camp.
The player I am most excited to get a preview of is Robert Nkemdiche. Reports out of camp have been glowing, almost to the point where we are being led to believe that the lights have finally come on for the former first round pick. Perhaps the transition to a 4-3 defense and the new coaching staff has made that so.
But again, we have seen Nkemdiche flash in the preason before, so anything we see on Saturday should probably be taken with a grain of salt. The Cardinals will be expecting big things from him this season and if they don’t see it, his future in the desert will become very murky.
Last and certainly not least is Mason Cole. The untimely injury to A.Q. Shipley has necessitated the rookie to be forced into action right away. The Cardinals are very high on him and he was a four year starter at Michigan, so big things are being expected of him. Cole will also be snapping the ball to Bradford, who is a notoriously highly intelligent quarterback, so making pre-snap reads will be something he gets assistance with.
More than the actual pass and run blocking aspects of it, it’s those pre-snaps reads that I am most interested in keeping an eye on. Yes, he has a lot of college experience and is probably well ahead of where most rookie centers would be, but I don’t expect Cole to play without any hiccups.
So, what players will you be watching this weekend?