Takeaways from Cardinals’ loss to Broncos in final preseason game
There’s little to take away from a fourth preseason game, but Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury may have tipped one aspect of his style against the Denver Broncos on Thursday.
Scoreless in the first quarter, the Cardinals faced a fourth-and-two on the 42-yard line. They attempted to convert. Quarterback Brett Hundley got sacked as the pocket collapsed around him, setting the Denver Broncos up around midfield.
In such a game, the result was less important than the reason Kingsbury went for it.
Did he take it as an opportunity to put roster hopefuls in a tough position? Or is he just an aggressive coach who prefers to, well, risk it for the biscuit?
The Cardinals lost 20-7 and did not score in the first half. For the third preseason game in a row, the Cardinals played extremely conservatively. Few if any regular season starters played.
Now, the Cardinals have the first claim on the waiver wire with many positions of need to fill.
A few things of note that may contribute to how the 53-man roster shapes up:
— Running backs T.J. Logan and D.J. Foster combined for two carries and eight yards. Neither has been playing well this preseason: Logan has a total of 13 carries for 49 yards while Foster has six carries for 15 yards.
Kingsbury was complementary of both running backs, though: “Both those guys have traits that you really like.” He referenced Logan’s explosiveness and Foster’s ability to catch passes, block the pass-rushers and play special teams.
Foster did have a reception on a short screen in which he weaved in and out of the defense for a long gain, but it got called back for unnecessary roughness on offensive lineman Josh Miles.
— Miles started at left tackle. The Cardinals are in greater need of offensive line depth than ever with the trade of Korey Cunningham. The unnecessary roughness penalty doesn’t give a good look to Miles, but it seemed to be his only major mistake on a night in which he got a lot of snaps.
The team will look to the waiver wire for offensive lineman, but Miles has attracted the attention of coaches in a positive way.
“We’re going to be looking heavily into that area and we’ll see, but I think from where we started in the spring with Josh to where he’s at now, we’re very pleased with his progress,” Kingsbury said.
— The cornerback battle is still up in the air. Brandon Williams gave up a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone. His coverage was fine, but he didn’t get his head around and the receiver caught the pass over him.
Cornerback Chris Jones came close to picking off a pass, but dropped the interception. Cornerback Nate Brooks intercepted a pass that was tipped.
With Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson suspended and cornerback Robert Alford injured, this is arguably the biggest position of need for Arizona. There could be a new face or two there next week.
“We’ll scour the wire and see what’s out there,” Kingsbury said.
— Linebacker Joe Walker did not play while linebacker Dennis Gardeck finished the game with eight tackles, six solo. Gardeck is listed behind Haason Reddick on the inside linebacker depth chart, while Walker is behind linebacker Jordan Hicks.
Assuming Reddick isn’t able to play Week 1, Walker’s absence in the fourth preseason game could insinuate he’s in line to start in his spot. But could Gardeck’s team-high tackles help him get time next week?
— Wide receiver Damiere Byrd did not play in the game, which is a sure sign he’s earned a spot on the team. Rookie KeeSean Johnson had four receptions, behind only A.J. Richardson, who had five receptions and had the sole Arizona touchdown of the day on a 28-yard reception.
— Safety Jalen Thompson, a supplemental draft pick, had seven total tackles and fifth-round draft pick safety Deionte Thompson had three total, including a tackle for loss.
“They’re still learning our system but you see them show up,” Kingsbury said. “I think they’re just going to get better and better.”