Originally Published: September 2, 2010
Jerry Lai/US Presswire JOHN CLAYTON QB RANKING (28): With former first-round pick Matt Leinart released, Derek Anderson will be the Cardinals' Week 1 starting quarterback.

Expert Picks (Consensus: 2nd)

Intelligence Report

Five things you need to know about the Cardinals:

1. A rookie could play at quarterback: The bizarre situation regarding Matt Leinart calls into question how the Cardinals will proceed at quarterback this season. The team loves what rookie Max Hall has shown during the exhibition season. That wouldn't mean much in the near term under normal conditions, but these are unusual times. Derek Anderson may or may not provide stability. It won't be a shock if Hall (or possibly John Skelton, who is competing with Hall for a roster spot) gets into games this season.

2. The Cardinals will still throw the ball: Warner's retirement means the Cardinals will change their offense. They'll lean on the running game a little more and they could become more balanced with Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower sharing carries. That doesn't mean the Cardinals will suddenly become the Carolina Panthers, however. They're going to throw the football because they have good weapons in the passing game and Whisenhunt wants to run his offense. Leinart attempted 28 and 37 passes in the first two games of the Whisenhunt era (2007).

3. The disrespect card has its limits: The Cardinals of 2008 and 2009 relished their underdog status. Quite often that status wasn't deserved. Arizona was a good team with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. Opponents underestimated the Cardinals at their peril. Arizona has already embraced the underdog role heading into 2010 and this team will indeed have an extra edge as a result. But the underdog role is also more justified this time. It'll be tougher to disprove skeptics without No. 13 under center and much tougher to duplicate the 6-2 road record Arizona posted last season.

4. This team has dynamic leaders: Look around the Cardinals' roster and you'll see accomplished players with strong personalities at just about every position group. Larry Fitzgerald sets the standard at receiver. Alan Faneca gives the offensive line personality. Darnell Dockett's work ethic and brash demeanor give the defensive linemen someone to rally around. Joey Porter keeps the young linebackers in line. Safety Adrian Wilson is an enforcer. Whisenhunt also has earned the respect of his players and his strength coach, John Lott, has been a transforming figure internally. Having so many strong leaders gives the Cardinals a chance to remain a tough team despite key personnel losses.

5. Emphasizing continuity isn't an option: The Cardinals started the same five offensive linemen in the same spots for most of the last couple seasons. Continuity throughout much of the roster was a strength. That is no longer the case. Some starting offensive linemen have changed positions. Faneca and right tackle Brandon Keith are new to the lineup altogether. The Cardinals have undergone more turnover since last season than all but a couple teams -- unusual after such a successful season. Some of the changes could work to the Cardinals' advantage because the team does have a good record developing young players. It's also likely the team will suffer some growing pains.

-- Mike Sando, ESPN.com

Scouts Inc.'s Fabulous Five


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