Now that the Arizona Cardinals have taken care of the defending AFC Champions, what can we take from what worked, and what didn’t work, for this team in the first preseason game?
At the risk of putting too much importance on nothing, the Arizona Cardinals looked pretty good in their preseason win over the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals. Though the game was mostly played by second and third string players, there are some good things to be taken away from a few players who will be seeing their share of action once the regular season begins in less than one month.
Despite all the talk about how the Cardinals are in complete shambles as a team and an organization, they managed to show out, for what it’s worth. They were able to spoil the Bengals’ return to their homefield for the first time since winning the AFC Championship. Here are some takeaways from the game – what looked good, what didn’t look so hot, and where this Cardinals team could be headed.
Zaven Collins / Marco Wilson
Among the starters from the game who are going to be seeing plenty of playing time in the regular season, Zaven Collins and Marco Wilson definitely could’ve been much better. On a number of occasions, they both looked to be confused and out of place during defensive plays. It was the very first game of the preseason, so I don’t want to labor too much on their shortcomings during the game, but they have to be better going forward.
This Cardinals team is already thin in the secondary and needs to be able to count on the starters that are there to provide enough security to the rest of the defense. More is expected of Collins and Wilson, particularly Collins, who spent much of the 2021 season as a starter or in the regular defensive back rotation. At this point, the secondary remains the biggest question mark on this Cardinals defensive unit.
On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Greg Dortch made a number of good plays for the Cardinals, including one long reception from Trace McSorley. Dortch doesn’t figure to land all that high on the wide receiver depth chart, but he made a clear case in the first preseason game for making the team once again this season. Particularly with DeAndre Hopkins out for the first six games of the regular season, the team could make good use out of a receiver like Dortch.
Dortch is just 5’7” and 173 pounds, very similar in proportion to Rondale Moore, and could feasibly fill the role that Moore had on last season’s Cardinals team. As Moore looks towards an expanded role this season—especially through the first six games—Dortch could be in line for a spot in the slot rotation. He possesses great speed, athleticism, and catch ability, all of which make him an intriguing player to watch the rest of the preseason.
Third string quarterback Trace McSorley looked pretty solid. With Kyler Murray out for obvious reasons and Colt McCoy nursing a slight injury, McSorley took the helm for the offense in the game. He looked very comfortable in the offense and had a natural flow in a number of the schemes that were called from the sidelines. There’s rarely much to be excited about with a third string quarterback, but at least Cardinals fans can take comfort knowing ours is solid enough to get along.
Eno Benjamin / Jonathan Ward / Keaontay Ingram
There’s quite a bit to like about running backs Eno Benjamin, Jonathan Ward, and Keaontay Ingram coming out of the game. With the departure of Chase Edmonds, the Cardinals are going to need some additional help in the running game to back up the ascendant James Conner in the regular season. If the first preseason game is any indication, there’s going to be a good deal of help from this group of backup running backs.
Benjamin, in particular, is expected to fit comfortably in the second running back spot. But in today’s NFL, it doesn’t hurt to have three or even four solid backs you can count on in rotation in order to keep the number one back fresh. For Conner, having a solid Benjamin, Ward, and Ingram lingering back in that rotation would be a great thing. Ward looked impressive rattling off a couple of touchdown runs and figures to make the cut on the Week One roster.