The San Diego Chargers will head to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals this Saturday for their second preseason game. The Chargers are coming off a 17-7 win against the Cowboys last week. The Cardinals starters played well in their first game but the Chiefs ended up blowing them out 34-19. Both teams will be attempting to overcome injuries sustained during the games and practices last week, so what adjustments will each team be looking to make?
Philip Rivers threw just two passes in his first action of the 2015 season (and completed both of them), we’ll see if they want him to get more work in the passing game as the starters work the first quarter. I’m sure he’ll be all smiles after signing that 4 year extension earlier this week, and will want to come out firing.
Some scary news for Chargers’ fans on Tuesday as reports stated running back Melvin Gordon had tweaked his ankle and might not play in this game, but all indications say the injury is very minor and he will back out there. This is great news as Gordon looked a bit hesitant in his first NFL action last week, finishing with just 11 yards on 6 rushes. He needs all the reps he can get in the preseason so he can work on his decision making and pass blocking.
He has all the physical tools you look for but he needs reps to improve the mental aspect before the season opener. I’m hoping he breaks a 20+ yarder on Saturday so we can see his moves in the open field.
Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver wasted no time getting back into the grove of things and will again be an integral part against the Chargers offense against the Cards. They both had a rushing touchdown against the Cowboys and will look to improve against one of the top front sevens in football.
Steven Johnson will get his first reception as a Charger in the first quarter, I’m calling it right now. The Chargers didn’t get to air out the ball much as Dontrelle Inman and Kyle Miller led the team with two. I think Coach McCoy lets Philip air it out more and wants to see his deep receiving core in action.
The defense was stout against the Cowboys and was surprisingly led by 5th round pick Kyle Emanuel. The former Bison had a sack and forced a fumble on special teams. He took some first team reps during the week and couple get some time in the first quarter when the first teams are out there. Look for him to build on a productive debut.
What we’re watching
Speaking of receivers, how about this matchup – Keenan Allen against Patrick Peterson. Rivers was very impressed with Allen’s work this offseason and during camp and I’m sure Allen wants to get his 2015 started off on the right foot. On the other side, Patrick Peterson had a pretty disappointing 2014 himself. He was actually diagnosed with Type II diabetes, which he control over now. He will be looking to get back to the Pro Bowl type player he was when he entered the league.
The Cardinals first team offense and defense looked pretty good against the Chiefs but their backups completely fell apart. While we mostly care about the starters, injuries have started to take their toll on Arizona and will have to turn to some unproven players.
On their offensive line, Guard Mike Iupati went down with a knee injury and could miss up to 8 weeks. That’s a huge blow for a team looking to keep Carson Palmer upright during the season and a team that ranked near the bottom in rushing.
Another blow for the Cards came in practice this week as their starting DT Corey Peters went down with a torn achilles, he was signed as a free-agent this offseason. Huge loss for the Cardinals front seven and now they will turn to Alameda Ta’amu.
It was also great to see Eric Berry back on the field after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma last season. Glad he made a full recovery and able to resume playing football.
Carson Palmer went 4/4 for 77 yards as he looked sharp. Look for Bruce Arians to continue to air it out as they search for any sort of a running game.
What we’re watching
Now that’s a segua. It’s definitely the Cardinals running game against this Chargers defense. The Cards just signed Chris Johnson to a 1-year deal and will compete for the starting job against Andre Ellington and rookie Karlos Williams. Johnson was with the Jets last year and will look to get his first action against the Chargers on Saturday.
Andre Ellington carried the ball just 3 times for 3 yards, but did have a nice catch and run down the middle of the field showing his pass catching ability. Karlos Williams led the team with 20 yards on 7 carries but I just don’t see him being much of a factor this year, especially now with the signing of Johnson.
Chargers rookie middle linebacker had some great plays against the Cowboys, we’ll see if he can fill the holes and stuff these Cards running backs behind the line of scrimmage.
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
When: Saturday, August 22
Time: 7:00 pm PT