Good, bad and ugly: 3 observations from the Cardinals' starters in their preseason game vs. Chargers

Posted at 7:16 PM, Aug 19, 2016

If you want the good news, skip down to item No. 3.

If you want the whole story, start from the top.

The Arizona Cardinals' offensive starters had an all-around shaky effort in Friday's preseason game at the San Diego Chargers on Friday night. Here are three key observations from the Cards' first-teamers on both sides of the ball.

1. Palmer's passes not pretty.

Cardinals starting quarterback Carson Palmer was in NFC Championship form Friday night -- and as you might recall, that's not a good thing. 

The 2015 NFL MVP candidate looked shaky at best against the Chargers, throwing a couple awful passes, one of which was easily returned for a touchdown on the Cards' second possession of the game. He was fortunate not to throw another on an ill-advised pass intended for Michael Floyd on the next possession.

On a night when Larry Fitzgerald didn't play due to a minor knee injury, Palmer went 4 of 8 for 37 yards before being pulled late in the first quarter. Yes, it's preseason, and the result (thankfully) won't count -- but wouldn't it be reassuring to see Palmer look a bit sharper next weekend at the Houston Texans?

2. Running game in reverse.

Palmer wasn't the only offensive starter to turn in a lackluster performance at Qualcomm Stadium. The Cardinals' running backs rushed for over 100 yards in the first half of their preseason opener vs. the Raiders. On Friday, they were brought back down to Earth.

The Cards' top two running backs, David and Chris Johnson, were held in check throughout the first half. David Johnson, who rushed for 31 yards on three carries last week, was limited to five yards on three carries Friday, while Chris Johnson was held to seven yards on four carries.

A cause for concern? Hardly. Just a reminder that the Cards' first-team offense was ineffective through the air and on the ground Friday.

3. Here's the good news...

Aside from a couple lapses in pass coverage, the Cardinals' first-team defense looked stellar in limited action Friday night.

Linebacker Chandler Jones, who was acquired from the Patriots in an offseason trade, made a big tackle for a loss. Defensive tackle Calais Campbell got pressure on backup quarterback Kellen Clemens to force an incompletion. And dollar linebacker Deone Bucannon planted a bone-crushing hit on a Chargers receiver in the first quarter. (Viewer discretion advised.)