The Arizona Cardinals (1-1) and Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) play their all-important third preseason game Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” Here are three things to keep an eye on:
How the defensive line will adapt in its first game without Darnell Dockett will be telling, especially since the starters will be playing about a half Sunday. If veteran Frostee Rucker can slide into Darnell’s spot seamlessly and keep the Cardinals’ run defense at the level it was at last year, a deep sigh of relief can be exhaled. If the Bengals run through the Cards’ line, then it’s time to possibly be concerned because the starters will likely have Thursday against San Diego off, meaning the next time the defensive line will have a chance to play against a live offense will be in Week 1 on “Monday Night Football” in front of a national audience.
While Jonathan Cooper continues to rest his turf toe injury, Ted Larsen will be next up to compete for the starting left guard job. He left a good impression with coaches after filling in for center Lyle Sendlein for the past three weeks, but the question becomes: Can he slide over one spot and continue to perform at that high level? With Larsen being the third starting left guard of the preseason, he’s in a position to solidify the starting offensive line with a productive outing. Cooper may not see any action Sunday, which means he’ll have Thursday’s preseason finale as the only other chance for him to play in order to be ready for the season opener.
Sunday may be the last game either Jay Feely or Chandler Catanzaro will play in a Cardinals uniform. After each kicked in one full game thus far, the two kickers will split Sunday with Feely kicking the first half and Catanzaro kicking the second. Earlier this week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was noncommittal about the kicking competition going all four preseason games. How the two kick Sunday will decide if Arians needs a fourth game to decide. If he doesn’t, Arizona will be down to one kicker after Tuesday’s first cuts.