MINNEAPOLIS - Here are five important things to keep your eye on when the Arizona Cardinals take the field for their second preseason game of 2014, against the Minnesota Vikings.
Watch the game on ABC15! Katie Raml will be LIVE in Minnesota with game coverage starting at 5 p.m. and kickoff scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
1. Fluke or trend?
Three stellar quarterback performances. First-rate rookie debuts. Defensive domination. And most importantly, no injuries.
Nearly everything went right for the Cardinals in their 32-0 dismantling of the Houston Texans in their preseason opener on Saturday. Of course, that game won’t count, and neither will this Saturday’s game at Minnesota. But if Arizona turns in a similar performance against the Vikings on both sides of the ball, it may begin to convince some of the more skeptical Cards fans that this team is capable of competing with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West.
2. Lindley’s turn.
Arizona's 2014 fourth-round pick Logan Thomas did everything he could on Saturday to convince the Cardinals that he should be picked ahead of 2012 sixth-round pick Ryan Lindley for the third-string QB position, completing 11 of 12 passes for 113 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions against Houston.
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said it will be Lindley’s turn to make his case on Saturday, and it looks likely that he’ll play for most of the second half. Lindley’s career numbers are very limited, and they don’t look impressive: he’s completed just 89 of 171 passes (52 pcercent), hasn’t thrown a touchdown, and has committed 10 turnovers (seven interceptions and three fumbles). Suffice it to say that he’ll have to do better during this preseason in order to hold off Thomas and preserve his roster spot.
3. Can the running backs get some traction?
The only thing that didn’t exactly go right for the Cardinals last weekend was in the rushing department, as their top three running backs – Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer – combined for just 23 yards on 15 carries, an average of 1.5 yards per rush.
In particular, Ellington, who is expected to be Arizona’s No. 1 RB this season, had just two rushes last week (for seven yards). Like most projected starters, Ellington isn’t likely to see much playing time this preseason – but it would be reassuring to see him, along with Taylor and Dwyer, break off a big run or two before the regular season rolls around.
4. Will Floyd and Ginn see the field?
Wide receivers Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn were held out of last weekend’s game due to a groin and knee injury, respectively, but both could see action on Saturday.
Azcardinals.com writer Kyle Odegard said both players will fly to Minnesota with the team, though their availability likely won’t be determined until right before the game begins. Odegard reported that Ginn is the more likely of the two wideouts to play, as he practiced on a limited basis on Thursday, while Floyd didn’t take the field.
5. Kicking out the rookie?
Thirty-eight-year-old Jay Feely has been the Cardinals’ placekicker since 2010, but he seems to have real competition from a guy 15 years his junior.
Against the Texans, undrafted rookie Chandler Catanzaro connected on all three of his field-goal attempts (from 32, 28 and 25 yards out), and he converted on three extra points, which were all taken from 33 yards out as part of an NFL preseason experiment.
Feely shook off competition from Dan Carpenter during the 2013 preseason, but Catanzaro, who also looked superb during kickoffs last weekend, appears to be much more of a threat to his job. Arians said Feely, who connected on 30 of 37 field-goal attempts last season, will kick in the Cardinals’ next two preseason games.