To cut to the chase, here are five players that were the most impressive and five other players that disappointed.
Five that impressed the most
#19 QB Trace McSorley
One game into the preseason and McSorley has already solidified his place on the 53-man roster as the third-string quarterback on the depth chart. Though he only played the first half, McSorley finished with 13-of-22 passes completed for 163 passing yards and a touchdown. He also had 32 rush yards on four carries while also leading the Cardinals to four scoring drives against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Unreal play by Trace McSorley. He just keeps making plays!— The Basic Blues Podcast (@BasicBluesPod) August 13, 2022
#83 WR Greg Dortch
Dortch has been the talk around town during Cardinals training camp and for good reason as that success translated into the preseason opener very well. He had four receptions for 53 receiving yards as he was easily the Cardinals’ best receiver that night. Dortch also had a 55-yard punt return and considering the team has a wide open battle for the return role, he should be in the lead for that title.
Greg Dortch just makes plays, folks. pic.twitter.com/Dtk8LzO5GD— PHNX Cardinals (@PHNX_Cardinals) August 13, 2022
#76 OG Will Hernandez
If there was any doubt that free-agent acquisition Will Hernandez will be the Arizona Cardinals’ starting right guard. that can be put to rest as he was arguably the best player on the football field last Friday. He played 42 snaps and was not phased by the Bengals’ backups as he dominated his level of competition. He has that mean streak and power that the Cardinals really like. For what it is worth, Hernandez was the highest-graded player on the offense with a 92.1 grade.
Wanna see a nice snatch?— Kyle (@marblekyle) August 13, 2022
RG Will Hernandez with the technique, then blocks 2 defenders at once in space pic.twitter.com/1Pa75ZOCwX
#52 OLB Victor Dimukeje
Dimukeje was compared to Markus Golden for his relentless non-stop motor after last year’s draft as a sixth-round selection and you could see why in Friday’s victory. He led the Cardinals with six pressures, two sacks and a forced fumble as he was easily the most dominant player on defense. As of now, Markus Golden and Dennis Gardeck are the expected starter but Dimukeje will be able to land a solid rotational role behind the two if he can replicate his performance next week against the Ravens. The Cardinals drafted two pass rushers in the draft and it was thought that Dimukeje would be the odd man out but not so fast. The 22-year-old has lots of upside.
#35 CB Christian Matthew
When the Cardinals selected Christian Matthew out of Valdosta State in the seventh round, most people had no idea how to react as he was unheard of by most people in the NFL world. He was an older-than-normal rookie (25) coming from a small school that was not thought to be much more than a camp body. After his performance on Friday, Matthew got the attention of the media, fans, and the Cardinals organization. He allowed none of his two targets and earned an 87.9 pass coverage grade by Pro Football Focus. He ran stride-for-stride against his competition. The 6-foot-2 195-pound corner with speed has potential and another performance like this could make his dream a reality as he works his way towards a 53-man roster spot.
Honorable mentions: Too many to list
Five that failed to meet expectations
#21 CB Breon Borders
For a team that is in desperate need of answers at the cornerback position, Borders did not help his case to be a solution. The Cardinals signed Borders off the Titans’ practice squad last season but he has struggled when counted upon. He allowed all three of his targets for 86 yards including that 30-yard catch to Bengals’ receiver Kendric Pryor as he lost track of his assignment in the preseason win. This was too reminiscent of his performance in Week 18 loss to the Seahawks last season.
#20 CB Marco Wilson
As of now, Marco Wilson is the favorite to land one of the starting outside cornerback jobs but his performance on Friday was not pretty. The Cardinals’ 2021 fourth-round selection allowed Trent Taylor to run by him for a 36-yard catch as well as being penalized for pass interference in his failed effort to prevent the completion. Kliff Kingsbury did not assure Wilson’s starting job when asked a couple weeks ago and for good reason. He has not earned the job yet.
#25 ILB Zaven Collins
The 2021 first-round pick Zaven Collins simply needs to play more. Though the jury is out whether he is a bust or not but the current signs are not in his favor. Collins played in only 18 snaps in the first preseason game and logged an assisted tackle. Not sure why the Cardinals opted to play Will Hernandez in 42 snaps on offense and not give Collins the same level of involvement on defense when he is in dire need of experience but it is what it is.
#5 K Matt Prater
There should not be any excuses for Matt Prater’s two missed extra points. For a player that is as accomplished as him, extra points should be rather simple. My only fear is he is having a Phil Dawson kind of a drop off. It is only the preseason so this is the best time to get the kinks out but the misses are not what you want to see from your 38-year-old Pro Bowl kicker with no competition.
#14 P Andy Lee
Lee’s first punt of the day went for 35 yards from the Cardinals’ own 30-yard line and had a 58-yard punt go into the endzone for a touchback. Hopefully it is just the early jitters for him and Prater as they get back into the swing of things in the football world. However, Lee has proven to be a very important and reliable holder for kicks which should make his spot on the roster secure. If the Cardinals offense is as dominant as we expect it to be, they will not need Lee too much this season. Either way, it was not necessarily a good performance by Lee.