What to watch for in preseason Game 3: Chargers vs. Cardinals

PHOENIX - There are a few things we should be keeping an eye on as the Arizona Cardinals take the field against the San Diego Chargers Saturday night in Glendale.

The one that you may miss if you're not focused early on, or if you're not even in the stadium yet, is the return of former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Whiz is now the offensive coordinator for the Chargers and my guess is that Cardinal fans will welcome him back with open arms. After all, it was Whisenhunt who led the Cardinals to two NFC West Championships and the team's only trip to the Super Bowl.
But as I said, it may happen during pre-game warm-up so if you're not paying attention, you may be left wondering what all the applause was about. Stay focused!

The second thing to keep your eye on is third-year running back Ryan Williams.

Number 34 was a second round draft pick in 2011 out of Virginia Tech and the team had high hopes for Williams, but he hurt his knee in the team's first preseason game in 2011 and then hurt his shoulder in game five of the 2012 season.

To make matters worse, Williams had some work done on his knee in January and hasn't been on the practice field much so far this preseason. In fact, Williams has missed both game one and game two, and just got back on the field on Thursday.

He is expected to play against the Chargers, but just how much time he'll get and to what extent he can impress the coaching staff remains to be seen. At this point, Williams has gone from second round pick in 2011 to being on the verge of being cut in 2013.

The competition at kicker between veteran Jay Feely and newcomer Dan Carpenter will be interesting for the coaches and the GM., but probably not so much for fans. Again, kickers don't exactly inspire the fan base until they're kicking a game-winner as time expires.

And then there's the issue of the offense not being able to score a touchdown when inside the opponent's 20-yard line -- known as the Red Zone.

Just last week against the Cowboys, the Cardinals had five opportunities inside the Dallas 20, but were forced to settle for two field goals and one missed field goal. Not the kind of production that coach Arians is looking for. Expect that to be a point of emphasis this week. It's obviously been a point of focus up to this point, but settling for field goals can get a coach fired in the league pretty quickly.

And then there's the question at linebacker. The Cardinals have 16 linebackers on the roster at this point, but we haven't seen the kind of production out of that group that we've come to expect in years past.

The coaching staff will be spending a lot of time watching game film between now and Tuesday's first roster cut deadline. (For those who don't know, all NFL teams must trim their roster to 75 by Tuesday, August 27, 2013)

Oh, I almost forgot the offensive line. But then again, we've been talking about the "O" line for years here in Arizona and it just hasn't gotten much better. Let's hope for Carson Palmer's sake, this year's line can keep him upright and not give up a league leading 58 sacks like they did in 2012.

With the starters playing into the third quarter, we should have a pretty good idea of what kind of team we'll have this season by the time the game's over. But then again, it is the Chargers, so it may not be the best test in Game 3 of the preseason.

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