With the well-chronicled difficulties at the tackle positions, fans of the Arizona Cardinals have been clamoring for one of two things: improvement or change.
In Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, they got both.
Early in the contest, head coach Ken Whisenhunt replaced starting left tackle D’Anthony Batiste with rookie seventh round draft pick Nate Potter, and the results were promising.
“He did real well, I’m very impressed with what Nate did for us (Sunday),” Whisenhunt said at his weekly press conference Monday. “I think it was a good time to make that switch with him in there and based on what I saw on the tape, it merits moving forward.”
The Cardinals’ pass protection was noticeably better than it’s been for most of this season. Arizona allowed only two sacks in 48 drop backs by quarterback John Skelton, the lowest total since they allowed just one in a Week 2 win over the New England Patriots.
Potter, a consensus All-American as a senior last year at Boise State, had the unenviable task of matching up with Green Bay defensive end Clay Matthews. But the rookie did a stellar job on the three-time Pro Bowler, holding him without a sack. Matthews eventually left the game with a hamstring injury.
“He’s worked hard on the scout team in getting his reps, he’s paid attention and he’s healthier now than he was,” Whisenhunt said. “He struggled in the preseason because of the high ankle (sprain), so it was encouraging to see that, but it was one game.”
Despite Potter’s performance and the struggles Batiste has endured at the position, Whisenhunt stopped short of announcing a permanent change at left tackle.
“We’re looking towards doing that with Nate, I think his play merited that,” he said. “That’s what this week’s about, we’re going to evaluate a lot of things.”
The Cardinals are in their bye week, with 13 days to get ready to play the undefeated Atlanta Falcons on the road in Week 11. When asked whether the bye week would stimulate other changes, Whisenhunt didn’t give an outright answer.
“I think we’re going to look at what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with,” he said. “But the one thing I want to be very clear about is, we’re not going to be afraid to make a change.
“If it gives an opportunity to get better and not stay the same, then that’s what you have to do because we’ve been inconsistent and we’re looking for more consistency. When we play consistent football, we’re a pretty good football team.”