The Cardinals open their preseason against Denver on Friday and will get a look at rookies up close and personal. For Arizona fans, it’s NFL football for the first time since the Super Bowl. For Jonathan Gannon, it is a look at rookie potential and a few veterans looking to keep a job.
Three Things to Watch in the Cardinals Preseason Game
Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing finally get a look at the position that most fans are interested in. Since starting quarterback Kyler Murray went down with an injury near the end of the 2022 season, questions have swirled. Ultimately, who begins the season in Washington needs to be settled, and quickly. Don’t be surprised if the Cardinals name rookie Clayton Tune as the interim starter with veteran Colt McCoy in the wings.
The Cardinals, accordingly, will take a long look at McCoy on Friday night. For the journeyman veteran and Texas alum, it’s about getting some of the rust off and playing quarterback.
Rookie QB Clayton Tune looked good working with the 2s during Day 2 of #AZCardinals training camp.
Had a few good balls, including this one to WR Zach Pascal. pic.twitter.com/jlUzFSkZou
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) July 27, 2023
With Tune, it’s a different story. His motor runs high, so to expect nothing other than pure adrenaline for his first time on the field, anything is possible. He has gotten limited work with the first team but a lot with the Cardinals’ second team. The fifth-round pick has been the subject of much debate among fans and the media. If he looks anything like Murray with his mobility and field savvy, it will be hard to keep him off the field. On the other hand, McCoy has a lengthy resume, and he may not see the number of snaps Tune gets.
It is a no-brainer that Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is No. 1 on the depth chart, but others are making a play for No. 2. Colorado rookie Daniel Arias is listed right behind Brown and followed by Kaden Davis. Stanford rookie Michael Wilson has looked solid in camp but needs to begin showing he belongs on the field. Hollywood hasn’t been a part of many 11-on-11 drills, so the rotation is up for grabs. If Wilson can make some plays against Denver, his profile will increase. Currently, he is a rookie trending up, meaning he could have a more significant impact than most thought. However, looking like an NFL receiver and playing productively like one is something else entirely. The Broncos will be a good first look.
— Craig Grialou (@CraigAZSports) August 5, 2023
Defense and Special Teams
More than a few decisions will go into who lines up on defense before Week 1. Cornerback, kicker, and punter have some storylines worth watching over the next four weeks.
Kei’Trel Clark and Christian Matthew are locked in a steel cage match with veteran Antonio Hamilton. This is a critical storyline to follow as it will determine who starts opposite Marco Wilson at cornerback.
Isaiah Simmons may be a real feel-good story as camp breaks. Expect to see him get some needed reps at safety, a position he covets. Defensive coordinator Nick Rallis has offered a lot of praise for Simmons as he changes position from linebacker to deep safety.
Matt Haack and Nolan Cooney are in stiff competition for the punting job. Heading into Week 1 of the preseason, Haack looks ahead of Cooney for that gig.
The Cardinals open their preseason against Denver Friday at 7:00 p.m. from State Farm Stadium in Glendale. Fans can watch on NFL Network.
Main Photo Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic