Columnist Kent Somers gives his thoughts from the first half of the Cardinals’ preseason game against the Saints.
Quarterback Josh Rosen, the first-round pick, entered the game in the second quarter and was able to play behind the first-team offensive line.
There were some shaky moments – like when he tried to stop throwing and let the ball slip out – but Rosen also was poised and accurate.
He threw a perfect long pass to J.J. Nelson that produced a defensive pass interference call.
The Cardinals were called for delay of game with Rosen at quarterback. It happened last week, too. On Friday, the Cardinals had trouble with the crowd noise, which contributed.
On the next play, however, Rosen had plenty of time to throw and drilled a 13-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Christian Kirk, the second-round pick.
Rosen showed great patience and Kirk did an excellent job of adjusting his route to find space in the end zone. Kirk made two excellent catches in traffic in the first half.
Late in the half, Rosen appeared to change the play at scrimmage, going to a screen pass.
At least, we think it was a screen. It looked like a few players were confused and the result was an incompletion.
Rosen was 10 of 16 for 107 yards and a touchdown in the first half, and Kirk caught four passes for 49 yards, including the touchdown.
Center Mason Cole, the third-round pick, appeared to hold up just fine for a second consecutive game.
The run defense
Yes, it’s possible for a defense to come up with two turnovers in a quarter and still play poorly.
The Cardinals’ front seven was manhandled in the first quarter, and the Saints gashed them for 62 rushing yards.
It’s obvious the Cardinals miss starting linebackers Deone Bucannon and Josh Bynes, who are out with injuries.
Some of the linemen, including Robert Nkemdiche, were consistently blocked out of their gaps.
Things then got worse for Nkemdiche when he suffered a foot injury in the first quarter and didn’t return.
This is a critical year for Nkemdiche, a first-round pick in 2016, who has done almost nothing as a pro. He has a history of lower leg injuries. His backup, Olsen Pierre, has been a better player than Nkemdiche, but if serious, Nkemdiche’s injury affects depth.
The Saints moved the ball against the Cardinals, but a tipped pass ended up as an interception. Later, quarterback Taysom Hill let the ball slip out of his hands on a play fake, and the Cardinals recovered.
The Saints committed four turnovers in the first half.
We saw examples of what the Cardinals want to do on offense this year: Run David Johnson behind a line that coaches think is full of powerful run blockers. The passing game will lean toward shorter routes, allowing quarterback Sam Bradford to get rid of the ball quickly.
Left guard Mike Iupati played well for a second consecutive game, and it appears to be playing like he did in his prime with the 49ers. He made an excellent block after pulling and leading Johnson through the hole.
Johnson’s 9-yard touchdown run was impressive not only because he kept churning his feet after being stopped, but also because he had several teammates join the scrum and push him into the end zone.
We will see a deep pass once in a while from Bradford, but it hasn’t made an appearance this preseason.
Receivers step up
The spots behind Larry Fitzgerald and Kirk are open, and a couple of contenders played well on Friday.
Nelson has the speed to be the team’s best deep threat. Chad Williams not only made catches, he did something with the ball after the catch. Tight end Gabe Holmes had a couple of catches and backup running back D.J. Foster is reliable, too.