No. 1 pick Bradford gets tough test in debut
“You can’t hang your hat on the preseason,” cornerback Ron Bartell said. “The Lions went 4-0 in preseason a couple years ago and finished 0-16, so you can’t take much stock.”
The Cardinals might be a bit of a mystery team early after making several personnel changes coming off a 10-6 year, including Derek Anderson, who makes his Arizona debut at quarterback. He beat out Matt Leinart, who left for Houston.
Anderson is trying to turn the clock back to 2007 when he made the Pro Bowl with Cleveland. Trying to forget last year when he lost his job to Brady Quinn, too.
The Cardinals envisioned Anderson as a backup when they signed him to a free agent deal, but found he fit the offense too well to leave him on the bench. Now he’s the successor to the retired Kurt Warner.
“I think the guys were excited when he was in there, and we had a little bit of different energy,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We didn’t get too caught up in what had happened the last couple of years in Cleveland, I think we evaluated him based on what we saw.”
Anderson will work behind a line that has two new starters and a third, Levi Brown, who moved from right tackle to left. Rams defenders expect more runs to set up the pass, yet Arizona still often uses four-receiver sets.
On defense there are five new starters and all but one, cornerback Greg Toler, are new to the team.
First-round draft pick Dan Williams won’t start at nose tackle but will play a lot.
Conventional wisdom holds that the Cardinals, who won their first five road games last year, may drift back to the pack while adjusting to roster turnover. Whisenhunt is 11-2 against the NFC West, with both losses to the 49ers.
“When you lose a player like Kurt, when you have some of the losses on offense and defense like we have, you can’t help but have it affect the team,” Whisenhunt said. “We understand that there’s a transition that you have to go through.
“But from what I’ve seen on the practice field and the way our guys, our team, has worked, I’m excited to play the game.”