The Detroit Lions will head to Arizona for a late-season tilt with the Cardinals. There is a lot of time between now and the December 16 game but it isn’t too early to check in on the opponent.
I want to thank Raising Zona editor Scott Allen for taking the time to answer my questions about the Cardinals while we wait for the regular season to arrive.
1. What is your initial reaction to the Cardinals’ 2012 draft class?
SA: It might be one of the best one’s from top to bottom since they moved to Arizona 24 years ago. First rounder, WR Michael Floyd hasn’t shown much in preseason yet, but he will be a good one. They got a corner in the third round who is a hard hitter, Jamell Fleming from Oklahoma. He’s competing for a starting spot. Bobby Massie, OT, was a steal in the fourth round from Mississippi. Justin Bethel, S, could end up being the biggest steal. He’s a sixth rounder from Presbyterian. He blocked nine kicks in his college career. He’s already blocked three kicks in his first three preseason games. Impressive.
Then there is Ryan Lindley, QB from San Diego State, who probably has played the best of the three QB’s this preseason so far. He’s a project and won’t be a starter this year. He might be in a year or two though.
2. Will the Cardinals’ quarterback controversy ever really end or will it all carry over until next April when they presumably draft a quarterback?
SA: It’s only a controversy because the media thinks it’s one. Yes, there is a competition, but neither Kevin Kolb or John Skelton has done much this preseason. I’m in the 0.5% still in Kolb’s corner. I don’t think he’s been given enough playing time the past two weeks to be able to show us anything. Whether they draft a QB next year really all depends on the development of Ryan Lindley. If they end up dumping Kolb here in the next two weeks or benching him in favor of Skelton, who knows? I say chances are better if they dump Kolb and go get a stop-gap veteran for a season.
3. What has been stuck out to you as a bright spot this preseason?
SA: Definitely Justin Bethel. Even if his impact is minimal at safety this season, he will make a major impact on special teams. Coach Ken Whisenhunt even alluded to it the other night when asked. He said it is a pretty safe bet Bethel is going to make this roster. I would also like to throw in Ryan Williams, RB. He got injured in preseason last year in his rookie season and was lost for the year. His knee injury was gruesome, but he came back the first week of practice this year and has looked great in practice. He did not play in the first two preseason games, but this past Friday he had five carries for 25 yards and a TD. One of his runs was 15 yards. He looks great.
4. What is your biggest concern head into the regular season?
SA: Other than the QB position, the health of the running backs. Beanie Wells has been on the PUP list since day one of training camp and they thought he would be back already. They still say he will be ready by opening day, but the further we go along, I’m not so sure of that. When he’s healthy – he’s on. Having him and Williams in the backfield and both healthy could create a lot of problems for teams. Without either of them, the Cards offense might be stagnant.
5. What are your expectations for the Cardinals in 2012?
SA: Tough question. Until the final roster comes out the first week of September, I still stick by my original prediction of 9-7, but really depending on how things fall, they could go anywhere from 5-11 to 11-5. They have to nail down the QB though. They can’t have a repeat catastrophe they had in 2010.