Arizona Cardinals’ checklist for final preseason game vs. Titans
After weeks of exhibitions, the Arizona Cardinals’ preseason slate is nearly over.
Don’t everyone cheer all at once.
The regular season is on the horizon, but before we get there, Arizona has a few more things to accomplish Saturday against the Tennessee Titans.
Cardinals’ checklist vs. Titans
Lock up the last roster spots
For the most part, head coach Kliff Kingsbury has a good idea of the team’s starters.
But toward the backend of the roster, there are some tough decisions to make.
For some, this last matchup will determine if they have a roster spot or not.
“I want to see how guys have improved each week and how they’ve continued to pick up our system,” Kingsbury told reporters Thursday.
“We’ll have a good feel for (the roster) on the flight,” the head coach added. “Lots of conversations there. We want to be fair to guys and give them plenty of heads up if they’re not going to be a part of this team so they have a chance to go other places and handle what they need to handle.”
One position that comes to mind is running back.
Behind starter James Conner, the Cardinals have four players fighting for what looks like three spots on the 53-man roster.
Eno Benjamin and Jonathan Ward have shown noticeable growth in the offense and are proven special teamers. Rookie Keaontay Ingram has the attributes to be a bruising back, though needs to continue to progress in special teams. And Darrel Williams brings a strong resume from Kansas City but has yet to really make his presence felt this offseason.
Another name to watch is rookie cornerback Christian Matthew. The corner has done enough to warrant a roster spot, but now it’s about getting him game ready for a room that is ultra thin.
This one goes without saying: Get out of Tennessee healthy.
The Cardinals have already seen their fair share of injuries this offseason, some of which could impact how the roster shakes out.
There is a fine line between making the most of additional reps and keeping guys fresh for when the games actually count in the win-loss column.
Trey Day Take 2
Rookie tight end Trey McBride’s first taste of live NFL action didn’t go off like many had expected for the versatile youngster.
McBride’s sample size was small, two targets — and no catches — over 31 offensive snaps, leaving a lot to be desired in a rookie who could help give the offense a boost this season.
Getting McBride more looks this time around is only going to help his confidence as he finds his NFL footing.
Keep it clean
Despite the amount of added bodies on the roster, the Cardinals have done a good job at keeping the penalties to a minimum over their first two preseason games.
In two exhibitions, Arizona has committed a total of seven penalties (62 yards) compared to a combined 23 (220 yards) from their opponents.
Wrapping the preseason up on that trend is a good confidence booster heading into the regular season.
Marco & Zaven
It’s been an offseason of ups and downs for cornerback Marco Wilson and linebacker Zaven Collins, who were viewed as starters entering the offseason.
Collins has looked faster in Year 2, but hasn’t produced the type of consistency a starting MIKE backer should have. There’s a very real possibility that veteran backer Nick Vigil, not Collins, starts Week 1.
Wilson has seen an even bigger falloff, with Kingsbury naming the corner as someone who needed to step up this offseason before eventually handing over the No. 2 cornerback role to Antonio Hamilton.
Kingsbury said Thursday that their participation in Saturday’s matchup will come down to a game-time decision.
Starters or not, Arizona must have a plan for how to the utilize the pair moving forward.