And while normally the third game of the preseason is considered meaningless for evaluating an overall team vs. specific players.
Cardinals fans can’t have been impressed by the team’s start to the game.
The Vikings’ rushing and play action game was incredibly effective, meeting little resistance for a touchdown, and on the following drive, Clayton Tune took a massive blindside hit and fumbled the ball in Arizona territory.
Jay Ward crushes Clayton Tune on the blitz, Troy Reeder recovers the fumble pic.twitter.com/sbxHeYc2Xu— Sean Borman (@SeanBormanNFL) August 26, 2023
To make matters worse, rookie OL Jon Gaines II was carted off after an injury on the first play of the game.
The game had a few other plays in the first half but as it usually goes it was sloppy, with the Cardinals missing an opportunity to land on a muffed punt and backup guard Dennis Daley limping off with help as well.
Arizona’s top two backup interior offensive linemen being gone meant that the team had to face a Vikings second team pass rush that looked as relentless as it had been over the previous week in shared practices.
Let’s hope they come back. Injuries stink in the final preseason game.
The second half began and after the Arizona defense held the Vikings to a field goal, the offense finally stepped up with a throw and catch to Davion Davis by David Blough to make it a 17-9 game.
After the first few drives, however, the defense performed much better, giving up only 3 points through out the rest of the game despite the Vikings being able to move the ball well.
The offensive line, however, gave less pressure and QB David Blough wasn’t able to make them pay as often through the air until the 4th quarter, with a good drive to score but no 2-point conversion.
They finally got some protection after Sean Chandler grabbed an Interception and Arizona was able to take a lead in the 4th quarter after a Matt Prater field goal.
The game ended with the defense holding, a missed Vikings field goal and some back and forth until Arizona walked away with a 18-17 win.
- Jesse Luketa...special teams ace...edge rusher...FULLBACK? He looked good and even caught a pass. If he can stick or even see snaps there, that will be fascinating for the Cardinals running game.
- Emari Demarcado missed a few lanes but had some juice and even held up well in pass protection. He seems to be a roster lock at RB3/4 right now, although the issue might be if anything that his spot might be dependent on the health of guys ahead of him.
- Cameron Thomas had some struggles, but also had a sack. He was put into a rough coverage situation and I still wonder if his best fit will be outside linebacker or gaining some weight to play Defensive End. Either way, the fact that neither he nor
- BJ Ojulari had a rough day in his snaps, especially with run defense. Struggled to set the edge at times and probably will not start Week 1 but come off the bench as a situational edge rusher.
- Cory Clement ran well and burst for 29 yards. He had been some at fullback in previous games and practices but he seems to have a roster spot.
- Dante Stills showed some flashes, being double teamed at times and also getting a sack late in the 4th quarter.
That’s all for now.
The regular season is next.