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2010 Preseason
CARDINALS - TENN. PREVIEW

  • When: Mon. 8/23 8 pm ET

  • Televised: Mon. Aug. 23, 8 pm ESPN "Live"

Overview:
It'sCards travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans on MNF and then spend the short mid-week interval until the 8/25 Bears game taking practice whacks at someone other than their teammates. It also affords the opportunity for Cardinal players to get a little extra dose of life on the road. The one thing that puzzles me, though, is why we scheduled the extra time in Tennessee for the period after the actual preseason game. Usually two teams will scrimmage together prior to when they play the real game.

Things tend to get more intense as the preseason moves along - the first game (vs. Houston) might best be described as an "audition" for all the youngsters and newbies to show the coaches and fans how their performance in practice drills translates onto the practice field. With cutdown date looming larger, each rep becomes that more important to guys competing for roster spots. Add to this the need for both the offense and defense to prove to everyone (including themselves) that they are ready to operate like a fine-tuned machine (We didn't see this against Houston - especially from our 1st string offense) and the pressure will mount for us to look more ready for prime time.

Previous Game:
Titans lost to Seattle by 2 points, falling behind 20 to 7 by the end of the 3Q, but coming back to nearly pull out a win. Chris Johnson scored a touchdown to end Tennessee's first drive. He had five carries for 7 yards on Saturday's initial drive. His score came on his third try from the 1, a cutback behind tight ends Bo Scaife and Craig Stevens.

Vince Young completed his first five passes for 78 yards. Seattle's Josh Wilson intercepted the sixth and final one, on a comeback route near the sideline intended for Justin Gage. Chris Simms replaced Young with 4 minutes left in the opening quarter. The rest of Tennessee's starting offense was out by the start of the second period.

The Titans rallied within 20-18 with 4:39 left on a 1-yard run by LeGarrette Blount and two-point pass by rookie quarterback Rusty Smith.They got the ball back with a minute left, but Smith threw an interception to Kam Chancellor with 25 seconds remaining.

HC Jeff Fisher says their our goals were to tackle, to minimize penalties, to execute offensively and to improve in the kicking game and felt "we did some of those things, really with our starters.  Then once you start making some substitutions, thereís going to be some issues, and we had some issues."  He says they've got a lot of work next week and an extra couple of days to take advantage of it. He anticipates getting some players back.  A couple of guys who didnít come on the trip should be returning...

Meet the TitansQuarterbacks
10 Young, Vince QB 6-5 232 27 5 Texas
05 Collins, Kerry QB 6-5 247 37 16 Penn State
11 Simms, Chris QB 6-4 231 29 8 Texas
07 Smith, Rusty QB 6-5 226 23 R Florida Atlantic
Who can forget Young and Britt driving the stake in our heart on that final play from scrimmage last year.  They can win with Collins if he has to step up. Simms (back from injury) is also capable. Kerry and Chris are mainly traditional drop-back passers, but containing the mobile Young presents a whole set of other challenges for the Cardinal defense. Sims and Smith got most of the touches last week vs. Seattle.

Running Backs

28 Johnson, Chris RB 5-11 191 24 3 East Carolina
21 Ringer, Javon RB 5-9 207 23 2 Michigan State
35 Pearman, Alvin RB 5-10 196 28 5 Virginia
42 Blount, LeGarrette RB 6-0 247 23 R Oregon
36 Gado, Samkon RB 5-10 227 27 4 Liberty
45 Hall, Ahmard FB 5-11 241 30 5 Texas
44 Collins, Jed FB 6-1 255 24 1 Washington State

Johnson has racked up almost biblical statistics in his brief career - mostly as a breakaway RB, but if there's a hole between the tackles, he can take it up there and be gone in a flash. Ringer, Pearman and Blount (whom I really lliked pre-draft) are all stocky thumper types. Ringer, Johnson and Blount each had about a half-dozen carries vs. Seattle. Pearman averaged 8.6 YPC. Johnson and Blount averaged somewhere between 0.8 and 1.4 YPC.

Wide Receivers

85 Washington, Nate WR 6-1 177 26 6 Tiffin University
18 Britt, Kenny WR 6-3 215 21 2 Rutgers
83 Mariani, Marc WR 6-1 190 23 R Montana

17 Williams, Damian WR 6-1 199 22 R Southern California
12 Gage, Justin WR 6-4 204 29 8 Missouri
87 Hawkins, Lavelle WR 5-11 194 24 3 California
19 Edison, Dominique WR 6-2 201 24 2 Stephen F. Austin
81 Williams, Paul WR 6-1 196 26 3 Fresno State
15 Sewall, Bobby WR 6-0 194 22 R Brown

I'm kind of surprised Britt isn't running with the first unit. Jage is a big possession receiver. Mariani led receivers with 3 grabs vs. Seattle. Gage, Britt and Williams caught one apiece. The unit had no TD receptions. Keep an eye on the rookie, Wiliams.

Tight Ends
80 Scaife, Bo TE 6-3 249 29 6 Texas
88 Stevens, Craig TE 6-3 268 25 3 California
89 Cook, Jared TE 6-5 248 23 2 South Carolina
86 Ryan, Sean TE 6-5 260 30 7 Boston College

47 Pfahler, Steve TE 6-4 254 22 R Montana

Scaife is very very good. Ryan had a couple of grabs vs. Seattle.

Offensive Line
71 Roos, Michael LT 6-7 320 27 6 Eastern Washington
66 Otto, Mike T 6-5 310 27 3 Purdue
72 McCaskill, Nevin T 6-4 304 26 1 Hampton
64 Harris, Leroy LG/C 6-3 303 26 4 North Carolina State
62 Howell, Nick T 6-5 295 23 R Southern California
54 Amano, Eugene G/C 6-3 300 28 7 Southeast Missouri State
61 Velasco, Fernando C/G 6-4 312 25 1 Georgia
60 Matthews, Kevin C 6-3 302 23 R Texas A&M
73 Scott, Jake RG 6-5 292 29 7 Idaho
77 Durand, Ryan G 6-5 301 24 1 Syracuse
76 Stewart, David RT 6-7 315 27 6 Mississippi State
70 Kropog, Troy T/G 6-6 308 24 2 Tulane
69 Toudouze, Michael T 6-6 310 27 3 Texas Christian
For the second week in a row, our defense will be going up against a group of no-name lineman. But lest we forget - these are the guys who helped Chris Johnson run for 2,000+ yards and helped keep Young upright.

Defensive Line

95 Hayes, William LDE 6-3 272 25 3 Winston-Salem State
98 Ball, David DE 6-5 255 29 6 UCLA
99 Bakhtiari, Eric DE 6-3 250 25 1 San Diego
75 Haye, Jovan LDT 6-2 277 28 6 Vanderbilt
91 Jones, Jason DT 6-5 276 24 3 Eastern Michigan
79 Brown, Kareem DL 6-4 285 26 2 Miami
96 Brock, Raheem DE 6-4 274 32 9 Temple
xx Harrington, Chris DE 6-5 260 25 1 Texas A&M
xx Brown, Tony RDT
94 Marks, Sen'Derrick DT 6-2 294 23 2 Auburn

72 Joseph, Joe DT 6-2 315 24 R Miami
78 Ford, Jacob RDE 6-4 252 27 4 Central Arkansas
93 Babin, Jason DE 6-3 260 30 7 Western Michigan
xx Morgan, Derrick DE 6-3 278 21 R Georgia Tech
67 Howard, David DT 6-3 304 22 R Brown
It must be a Jeff Fisher hallmark, but you don't see many Pro Bowl names in this unit either (Maybe Haye.  And Raheem Brock, Ball and Babin's names are familiar but that's about it). Bakhtiari and Babin each had a sack vs. Seattle. Harrington is a former Cardinal draft pick. Brock was 8th in tackles vs. Seattle with 3.

Linebacker

51 McRath, Gerald LB 6-3 228 24 2 Southern Miss
92 Witherspoon, Will LB 6-1 240 30 9 Georgia
59 Keglar, Stanford LB 6-2 250 25 3 Purdue
55 Tulloch, Stephen MLB 5-11 240 25 5 North Carolina State
56 Allred, Colin LB 6-1 242 27 3 Baylor
57 Rivera, Mike LB 6-2 252 24 1 Kansas
58 Amato, Ken LB/LS 6-2 240 33 8 Montana State
52 Winborn, Jamie LB 5-11 230 31 9 Vanderbilt
53 Curran, Rennie LB 5-11 230 21 R Georgia
49 Trahan, Patrick LB 6-2 236 23 R Mississippi
xx Thornton LB

We know a little bit about McRath and Witherspoon. And Winborn is legit, but here too, we don't see any superstars in this group. I'm guessing that you can attribute this to a Fisher policy of promoting his players based on merit rather than on big-name hype. Last week, McRath led the defense with 6 (assisted & unassisted) tackles. Rivera was credited with 4.

Secondary

30 McCourty, Jason LCB 6-0 188 23 2 Rutgers
29 Mouton, Ryan CB 5-9 184 23 2 Hawaii
20 Verner, Alterraun CB 5-10 187 21 R UCLA

31 Finnegan, Cortland RCB 5-10 188 26 5 Samford
26 Hill, Tye CB 5-10 186 28 5 Clemson
38 Ittersagen, Pete CB 5-10 191 24 1 Wheaton
24 Hope, Chris SS 6-0 204 29 9 Florida State

23 Nickey, Donnie S 6-3 226 30 8 Ohio State
25 Rolle, Myron S 6-2 219 23 R Florida State
33 Griffin, Michael FS 6-0 203 25 4 Texas
22 Fuller, Vincent S 6-1 192 28 6 Virginia Tech
32 Johnson, Robert S 6-2 206 23 R Utah
39 Schommer, Nick S 6-0 204 24 1 North Dakota State

I The starting CB tandem may be as good as you'll find anywhere in the league. I know McCourty from his Rutgers days, and Finnegan may be the biggest steal ever to put on an NFL jersey. Mouton and Hill are good backups. Griffin is standout safety. In the Seattle game, Inttersagen, Verner and Mouton were all tied for second with 4 tackles apiece.

Special Teams

02 Bironas, Rob K 6-0 210 32 6 GA Southern/Aub
03 Schmitt, Ricky P/K 6-3 217 25 1 Shepherd (W.Va)
06 Kern, Brett P 6-2 217 24 3 Toledo

54 Amano, Eugene LS/G/C 6-3 300 28 7 Southeast Missouri State
17 Williams, Damian PR/KR/WR 6-1 199 22 R Southern California

Bironas is pretty good. We'll haver to see about Schmitt. Vs. Seattle, Schmitt averaged 55 yards per punt on two punts. (Kern punted 4 times). Birona was 1 for 1 with a FG between the 40 and 49. Williams is a rook. Mariani reuturned 4 kickoffs for 92 yards, Pearman returned one KO for 16. Mariani returned 3 punts for 8.3 YPR.

Cardinal Roster (Nicked players in Olive).

QB - 07 Leinart, 03 Anderson, 19 Skelton, 06 Hall
Leinart did little to impress last week despite going 6 for 7. Anderson tended to throw hard-to-catch rocket balls and was often wild-high. Both still have a lot to prove. Skelton was the surprise of the group - looking confident & accurate and leading his team to 2 scores and a win. (But then, in a subsequent practice, he pivoted the wrong way on 2 handoffs, so he still needs work on becoming more consistent.

RB - 34 Hightower, 26, Wells,  31 Wright, 36 Stephens-Howling  (KR/PR), 46 A.  Smith
THT and Beanie continue to split duties. The more powerful Wells is more adept at gaining positive yardage when the blocking isn't there. Hightower is considered better at pass pro. Last week, Timmy made a poor cutback decision on a cutback that resulted in a 2-yard gain instead of a possible 20 yarder. Wright may be the most underrated player on the roster (tremendous catching out of the backfield).

FB - 32 Broughton, 
45 Mauwi
a
Didn't see much of Broughton. Wolfley describes Mauwia (who caught two passes and looked good as a lead-blocker last week) as "a dumpster with eyebrows."

WR - 15 Breaston, , 80 Doucet , 12 Roberts,  Komar, 85 Mougey
WR -11 Fitzgerald,  17 O Jones, 16 Gant, 18, 14 S Williams, xx M Jones
It looks like it will be Fitz, Breaston & Doucet, with O Jones, Williams, Komar, Gant and Roberts (in that order) fighting for the remaining two of 6 WR spots. Fitz sprained his knee making his only catch and may be held out for the remainder of preseason as a precaution. We didn't see much of Breaston. Doucet has been solid, but is (once again) banged up. The 6-5 Williams (an UDFA) has been the surprise of camp (hands, routes, speed, size - the whole package). Despite being drafted in the 3rd round, Roberts has had "hand issues" that won't seem to go away and may not make the active roster. Jones (who was solid last year but wound up on the PS) looks just as soilid this year. Gant faces a 4 game suspension and, ina deep and talented group, this may mean his downfall. Komar has been looking more and more impressive each day and had two impressive grabs vs. Houston. Mougey (another big fella) may be odd man out unless he makes it to the PS. Jones was just added to the roster mainly to be available to take reps in Fitz's and Early's absences.

TE - 89 Patrick, 84 Becht, 83 Spach, , 86 Byrd,  81 Dray
Patrick (most well-rounded) has been injured. Becht (primarlily a blocker) hasn't played much. The combative Spach is mainly a blocker. Byrd may have the best hands and might be kept in a combo (TE/H-Back) role. The somewhat banged-up rookie Dray had a couple of nifty grabs vs. Houston.

LT- 75 L Brown, 73 Bridges,  69 Knips
LG-
66 Faneca,  70 Hadnot, , 68 Pestock
OC-
63 Sendlein, 62 Claxton, 60 Moosman, (70 Hadnot)
RG-74 Wells, 76 Lutui, 66 Palmer
RT 
72 Keith, 67 H Johnson,  (69 Knips)
This group underperformed for much of the Houston game. Keith and Brown were schooled by Pro Bowl standout Mario Williams, but both bounced back to play better after they settled down. Faneca didn't see much action. The two "fat boys" (Lutui and Herman Johnson) were singled out by Wiz for good play. Hadnot had a pretty downfield block on Wright's winning score. Johnson did a nice job of walling off defenders on Alfonse Johnson's TD run. But (with the exception of Skelton in the 4Q) Cardinal QB's seldom had much time to throw the ball and (vs. Houston's #1 defense) our running attack looked just north of feeble.  

DE - 93 Campbell, 79 Iwebema, 71 Clark
NT - 97 B Robinson, 98 Watson, 92 D Williams
DT - 90 Dockett, 78 Branch, 73 Dykes
Unit looked solid last week. The starting front 3 was solid. Iwebema made a couple of outstanding tackles. Although Williams didn't look like Superman, he did havea couple of moments; plus we shouldn't forget that, in standared 3-4, nose tackles  seldom stand out -ask yourself how much of LB Daryl Washington's success was due to his being protected by Williams.

OLB1 - 55 Porter, 52 C Brown,  57 Baggs, 48Schofield,
ILB 51 Lenon,  58 D Washington, 43 C Johnson , ,
ILB- 50 Beisel,
  95 Togafau, 56 Walker, 54 Hayes
OLB2 - 53 Haggans,  59 W Davis,  96 M Washington
Other than Lenon (who had his moments) the first unit was in and out of there without much fanfare. The two LB's who really flashed vs. Houston were D Washington (who led the team with 13 tackles and recovered a fumble) and Togafau (who, as he was during the past 3 or 4 years before getting cut each time) was "Pago On the Spot" frequently flying in to turn a potentially long running play into  a non-factor. Cody Brown also impressed by moving quickly to where the ball was (though one thing we hope we'll see more of from Cody - once he can stop thinking so much and rely on his instincts - is explosive closing speed. Hopefully this will begin to happen as he gets more acclimated).

RCB - 37 McBride, 28 Toler, 47 J Miller,  21 Calvin,
LCB-
29 Rodgers-Cromartie, 27 Adams, 30 M Green, 20 Jefferson, 39 Ford,   
SS-
  24 Wilson,
 22 Ware, 41 Abdullah,
40 Tillman
FS- 25 Rhodes,  49 Rash Johnson, 35 Rouse
What jumped out at me during the Houston game was the number of backup CB's with athletic talent and aggressiveness that the Cardinals have on the roster. Toler (with the exception of one blown tackle) looks like he will eventually win the starting battle with McBride opposite DRC (who has looked very very good). But Marshay Green, Calvin and Jefferson have all had their moments and Ford had a couple of big special teams tackles. The one guy who may be vulnerable could turn out to be Michael Adams (who got beat on a dig route), depending on whether one of the other "short" backups (like Green or McBride) outplays him. A-Dub only appeared for one or two series, but played as if the playoffs were on the line and made more plays during that brief showing than most other Cardinal defenders made in an entire game. Rhodes looked fine durting the short time he was in there. Ware and Abdullah looked pretty good. I thought Rashad Johnson still seemed to be struggling despite positive comments to the otherwised by the coaches. Rouse (who was slightly hurt in an auto accident) was released 8/19.

Compared to the past few seasons, this Cardinal defense - with the additions of guys like Lenon, Porter and Rhodes - seems to be the smartest I've seen in many years. (Of course there was that one glaring exception vs. Houston - Justin Miller's glaring blunder that gave A Johnson a cheap TD). But other than that, this looks like a smart "D."

K-04 Feely
P- 05 B Graham,

H - 05  B Graham
LS-
82 Leach
KR -
15 Breaston, 37. Stephens-Howling
PR
- 15 Breaston
Feely missed a 50-yarder in the Houston game, but also made a saving tackle in KO coverage early in the 1Q. Graham has the uncanny ability to make his punts roll inside the 10 (& sometimes the 5). We have our doubts about Roberts as a punt returner. Justin Miller looked good on two kickoff returns but may have to show more as a DB if the Cards are to keep him.

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