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Halo 10-10-2010 03:33 AM

Preview: Arizona Cardinals Vs. New Orleans Saints
 
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In the last two weeks, the defending Super Bowl champions have seen their highly touted defense dwindle down to second and even third stringers stepping out onto the field and keeping things intact. Safety Roman Harper was already sitting out. Then Pierson Prioleau went down. Chris Reis ended up injured reserve and is gone for the season. Tracy Porter is on the shelf for at least 2-4 weeks. Will Smith has been battered and is questionable for this week.

We also can't forget that on the offensive side of the ball, Reggie Bush will be missing his third straight game while Pierre Thomas is sitting out for the second week in a row. But the thing is that it's going to be up to the offense to keep the injury woes of the defense as a small concern and not a big problem. If Drew Brees and the Saints' offensive unit can finally light the fire underneath them and get explosive like they have been the past few seasons, then things will be made a tad easier on the replacements on Gregg Williams' defense.

What to watch for:

~ Arizona will have rookie Max Hall making his first career start in the NFL after taking over for erratic and inconsistent Derek Anderson. If the Saints had a heatlhy secondary, then this would not be a big deal whatsoever, but the back-ups will have to be on the alert right away and not let the young guy get any confidence. Helping matters here will be if the defensive line and linebackers can bring a good pass rush with some hard-nosed blitzes that puts pressure on Hall. Shaking him up and getting into his head early will cause some mistakes to be made and allow the Saints to get past the injury concerns.

What helps out even more is that the Cardinals are facing some injury problems in their group of wide receivers. Both Steve Breaston and Early Doucet have been ruled out of Sunday's game which means that the main weapon will be Larry Fitgerald and he can't do it alone.

~ How serious are the injuries the defense is dealing with? Let's take a look at the status of a few players for Sunday:
  • Tracy Porter - Out
  • Reggie Bush - Out
  • Pierre Thomas - Out
  • Roman Harper - Questionable
  • Will Smith - Questionable
  • Pierson Prioleau - Questionable

So you can almost mark all those guys off for Sunday and hope names like Usama Young, Patrick Robinson, Alex Brown, Jimmy Wilkerson, and Randall Gay can pick up the slack and even raise the intensity. They're going to need to be on their toes and not allow Hall to play like Kurt Warner out there. Maybe even more important is keeping the running back combo of Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower in check. Hightower is the only real highlight the Cardinals had in last year's NFC divisional playoff game won by the Saints. Wells has a bit of a chip on his shoulder and is looking to prove something.

~ Will the Saints' offense finally wake up? Brees said after the game last week that this team is not placying up to their full capabilities yet they are 3-1. He wonders what it will be like when they actually start playing like they know they can if they are already winning most of their games at say, half-speed. Fans wonder the exact same thing, but now we're a quarter of the way through the season and we still haven't seen it.

Sure there has been a decent balance given now and that was especially true last week with the duo of LaDell Betts and Chris Ivory. It's just quite a bewilderment that guys like Marques Colston and Devery Henderson have been virtually invisible so far this season. Henderson has had a case of the drops and Colston just can't seem to get the open looks in order to have the ball thrown his way. Getting their big wide receiver involved may open up the running game even more and allow Ivory to possibly break free for a big run.


FIn the last two weeks, the defending Super Bowl champions have seen their highly touted defense dwindle down to second and even third stringers stepping out onto the field and keeping things intact. Safety Roman Harper was already sitting out. Then Pierson Prioleau went down. Chris Reis ended up injured reserve and is gone for the season. Tracy Porter is on the shelf for at least 2-4 weeks. Will Smith has been battered and is questionable for this week.

We also can't forget that on the offensive side of the ball, Reggie Bush will be missing his third straight game while Pierre Thomas is sitting out for the second week in a row. But the thing is that it's going to be up to the offense to keep the injury woes of the defense as a small concern and not a big problem. If Drew Brees and the Saints' offensive unit can finally light the fire underneath them and get explosive like they have been the past few seasons, then things will be made a tad easier on the replacements on Gregg Williams' defense.

What to watch for:

~ Arizona will have rookie Max Hall making his first career start in the NFL after taking over for erratic and inconsistent Derek Anderson. If the Saints had a heatlhy secondary, then this would not be a big deal whatsoever, but the back-ups will have to be on the alert right away and not let the young guy get any confidence. Helping matters here will be if the defensive line and linebackers can bring a good pass rush with some hard-nosed blitzes that puts pressure on Hall. Shaking him up and getting into his head early will cause some mistakes to be made and allow the Saints to get past the injury concerns.

What helps out even more is that the Cardinals are facing some injury problems in their group of wide receivers. Both Steve Breaston and Early Doucet have been ruled out of Sunday's game which means that the main weapon will be Larry Fitgerald and he can't do it alone.

~ How serious are the injuries the defense is dealing with? Let's take a look at the status of a few players for Sunday:

* Tracy Porter - Out
* Reggie Bush - Out
* Pierre Thomas - Out
* Roman Harper - Questionable
* Will Smith - Questionable
* Pierson Prioleau - Questionable

So you can almost mark all those guys off for Sunday and hope names like Usama Young, Patrick Robinson, Alex Brown, Jimmy Wilkerson, and Randall Gay can pick up the slack and even raise the intensity. They're going to need to be on their toes and not allow Hall to play like Kurt Warner out there. Maybe even more important is keeping the running back combo of Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower in check. Hightower is the only real highlight the Cardinals had in last year's NFC divisional playoff game won by the Saints. Wells has a bit of a chip on his shoulder and is looking to prove something.

~ Will the Saints' offense finally wake up? Brees said after the game last week that this team is not placying up to their full capabilities yet they are 3-1. He wonders what it will be like when they actually start playing like they know they can if they are already winning most of their games at say, half-speed. Fans wonder the exact same thing, but now we're a quarter of the way through the season and we still haven't seen it.

Sure there has been a decent balance given now and that was especially true last week with the duo of LaDell Betts and Chris Ivory. It's just quite a bewilderment that guys like Marques Colston and Devery Henderson have been virtually invisible so far this season. Henderson has had a case of the drops and Colston just can't seem to get the open looks in order to have the ball thrown his way. Getting their big wide receiver involved may open up the running game even more and allow Ivory to possibly break free for a big run.

Read the rest and game predictions at The Examiner


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