The Arizona Cardinals kicked off their four-game preseason schedule with a 17-0 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field Friday night.
While the final score doesn’t mean much outside of a happy flight back to the Valley, the Cardinals graded out rather well by the numbers.
The most important thing during a preseason game isn’t the scoreboard, it’s keeping the starters healthy. And at Lambeau Field, Arizona’s starting offensive line did a terrific job of making sure quarterback Carson Palmer remained on his feet throughout his brief on-field appearance. The first-year Cardinals QB went 4-of-6 for 77 yards and a touchdown and wasn’t sacked once.
Patrick Peterson touched the football once Friday, but it came at his natural position, cornerback. Peterson intercepted a Graham Harrell pass midway through the first quarter. The Cardinals went on to score their first touchdown of the night on the first offensive play after the pick.
Outside of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, no wide receiver is guaranteed a spot on the Cardinals’ 53-man roster coming out of camp. But the competition for the fourth wide receiver spot heated up Friday as Jaron Brown (five catches for 46 yards and a touchdown) and Charles Hawkins (four catches for 92 yards) both played well.
Bruce Arians hinted that the Cardinals’ offensive starters would only play about 15 snaps, but after three drives and nine snaps, the first-year coach elected to pull Palmer and Co.
The Cardinals scored 14 points in the first half, all of which came off of turnovers.
Larry Fitzgerald was on the field for only three drives in Arizona’s preseason opener, but he was Palmer’s main target with two catches for 21 yards.
Tyrann Mathieu returned two punts Friday night, and his second return was reminiscent of his days at LSU in 2011. The Cardinals’ third-round pick took a Tim Masthay punt up the middle for 24 yards in the fourth quarter, despite the fact there didn’t seem to be much daylight for him to run off a big chunk of yardage.
Palmer’s 38-yard pass to Andre Roberts in the first quarter was the longest touchdown thrown by a Cardinals quarterback since Week 4 of the 2012 season.
New team, new number, same John Abraham. The 35-year-old assimilated himself rather nicely in his Cardinals’ debut by forcing a fumble on the first play of the second quarter. Abraham recorded six forced fumbles in 2012.
Todd Bowles’ first-team defense allowed the Packers to go 86 yards on their first drive, but David Carter stopped running back James Starks at the two-yard line on a fourth down run.
The Cardinals recorded their first preseason shutout since August 2008, when they blanked the Oakland Raiders 24-0.