Cardinals' Anderson solid against Bears

BY foxsports • August 28, 2010

The third week of the preseason continued with nine games on the Saturday schedule. Most of the quarterback battles have already been settled, but one in particular drew the interest of many observers this evening.

The Arizona Cardinals are still trying to determine who will start opening day against the St. Louis Rams. With that said, here are some observations on both signal callers as well as the quarterback on the other side of the field, Jay Cutler and his Chicago Bears:

• Derek Anderson got the start for the Cardinals and was very efficient. The tall passer was fairly accurate and was willing to stand in the pocket to throw the ball. It’s a virtual certainty that he’ll be their starting quarterback when the team takes on the St. Louis Rams in the season opener.

• While Matt Leinart was very accurate, he continues to check down the ball too much instead of maintaining his down-field focus. That’s why he throws for a low average per pass attempt. They simply can’t run the passing game they would like with Leinart behind center.

• The way the coaches are using second-year RB Chris “Beanie” Wells continues to be a mystery. He didn’t get into the game until the second quarter. Of course, the fumble in the red zone didn’t help his cause. Tim Hightower is the starter for one big reason. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. But that doesn’t mean Wells won’t be a big factor during the regular season. Wells is eminently more talented than Hightower, but he must correct his mistakes.

• We’ve been talking about undrafted free-agent rookie WR Stephen Williams quite a bit in this space over the past few weeks, but he continues to get it done in a big way. He made a nice adjustment on his 27-yard TD catch from Anderson in the second quarter. It’s mind-boggling why Williams wasn’t drafted. His NFL Combine workout was decent, and he runs well for his size.

• Give LT Levi Brown credit. He did a very solid job against RDE Julius Peppers.

• Fifth-year DT Gabe Watson was very active in this game. The light could be coming on for the former fourth-round pick out of the 2006 NFL Draft.

• Underrated DT Calais Campbell continues to make his presence known. For a guy at 6-8, he moves around quite well. Chicago’s offensive line had trouble with him for most of the time he was in the game.

• Jay Cutler struggled in this game. But for whatever reason, he couldn’t get untracked even with mostly good pass protection. He just doesn’t look comfortable. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz must design plays for Cutler to get the ball out of his hands quickly in order to get his confidence back.

• Veteran RB Chester Taylor displayed outstanding moves and pretty good speed during his 34-yard run in the first half.

• Second-year WR Johnny Knox is clearly Cutler’s top passing option. He has improved his route running and has outstanding short area quickness.

• The Bears were without several key players on defense, so that could be attributed to their struggles on that side of the ball.

Here are more random thoughts and observations from the remaining eight games:

• Veteran QB Jake Delhomme was very accurate again for the Cleveland Browns against the Detroit Lions. He’s getting clearly defined reads in the play calling, and he’s getting rid of the ball quickly. He’s 38-48-345-2TDs so far in his three preseason appearances. But the big number, zero INTs.

• One of the main reasons why the Browns wanted FB Peyton Hillis included in the Brady Quinn trade was because they wanted to add some athleticism to that position. That athleticism was on display against the Lions.

• Rookie RB Jahvid Best continues to shine. He’s unbelievable in space.

• While their offense continues to be impressive, the defense is looking like it’s going to struggle again. The Lions simply lack enough quality talent on the other side of the ball.

• Carson Palmer looked very comfortable behind center for the Cincinnati Bengals during his playing time against the Buffalo Bills. He did a good job of scanning the field. He is loaded with passing options for the first time in many years.

• I’ve said it before here, but veteran RB Cedric Benson continues to look good. It’s a nice story that he’s been able to turn his career around after what happened to him with the Bears.

• The Bengals finally have a true receiving threat at tight end in Jermaine Gresham. He simply is going to be a matchup nightmare for linebackers or defensive backs. He’s going to be a very solid third passing option for this team.

• Buffalo QB Trent Edwards continued to play good football against Cincinnati. As long as he doesn’t turn the ball over, he will be the starting quarterback.

• Rookie RB C.J. Spiller still tries to hit the home run play too much, but the guy is a threat to make a big play at any time. Even after his slow start, he was able to find success against Cincinnati’s defense.

• Rookie LB Arthur Moats might turn out to be a steal for the Bills as a sixth-round pick. He flashed in this game. He adds a physical presence at ILB off the bench. He played DE in college.

• The Jacksonville Jaguars badly need a few more passing options for their offense. While veteran QB David Garrard was very efficient against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there were few big plays made.

• A team source said that second-year RB Rashad Jennings is underrated as a pass catcher. He proved to have good hands in this game.

• Jacksonville still lacks a pass rush. For them to have a realistic chance to be a .500 team or better, they have to start to come up with a consistent pass rush from their ends.

• I thought Tampa Bay QB Josh Johnson did a nice job of getting rid of the ball quickly. He was more decisive than usual against the Jaguars.

• Rookie WR Mike Williams continued his dominance. While the defender fell on his 53-yard catch and run, he’s had a stellar preseason, and practice observers said he was their best offensive player in training camp.

• While Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco had a very solid game against the New York Giants, the Giants were without two of their top-three cornerbacks. Flacco’s offensive line did a great job of giving him enough time to throw the ball most of the time.

• While some want to put him out to pasture, veteran TE Todd Heap looked very good. I can’t recall him moving this well in recent years.

• The injury-ravaged Ravens secondary had a nice performance against QB Eli Manning.

• Rookie WR Victor Cruz did it again for the Giants. He continues to make big plays. Not only is he pushing for a spot on the 53-man roster, but he could wind up being their fourth receiver.

• Veteran DT Rocky Bernard not only had two sacks against the Ravens, but he was very active and disruptive. That’s what they were looking from him last season.

• What in the world happened to the Dallas Cowboys tonight in their matchup against the Houston Texans? Sure, they looked flat, but they acted like they didn’t want to be there.

• QB Tony Romo was better in this game than he had been in the previous two games, but he still does not look very confident behind center. He had two backup offensive linemen starting, but that shouldn’t be looked upon as an excuse.

•Dallas just could not muster a pass rush against Houston’s offensive line all night. Houston’s offensive line might finally be coming of age.

• RB Arian Foster continues to prove personnel evaluators wrong. He wasn’t drafted last year, but he’s well on his way to becoming Houston’s starting running back in just his second season. His downhill instincts are rare for such a young back. He’s also a very decisive runner.

• Second-year CB Glover Quin was very active in this game. He’s received very little credit for how well he played as a rookie.

• Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre didn’t seem as comfortable without top WR Sidney Rice in the lineup against the Seattle Seahawks. But he did get to work with new WR Greg Camarillo. Camarillo will help the offense in a short area. Minnesota clearly will have to rely on starting RB Adrian Peterson much more. He’s proving to be underrated as a pass catcher.

• Veteran WR Javon Walker could have a bigger role for this team than most thought if his knees hold up. He made a really nice 25-yard TD catch between two defenders on a pass from veteran QB Sage Rosenfels.

• Rookie CB Chris Cook, who got the start for the Vikings, has a realistic chance to stay in the lineup going forward. Very little fazes the first-year defender.

• Veteran RB Leon Washington got the surprise start for Seattle. The fact that he’s back playing this well after suffering such a horrific injury last season is amazing.

• Seattle has easily gotten the better end of the trade so far in which they acquired DE Chris Clemons from the Philadelphia Eagles. The veteran pass rusher, who is starting, still gets off the edge very well. He gave RT Phil Loadholt all he could handle tonight. DE Darryl Tapp, who was traded to Philadelphia, is coming off the bench.

• Give the Carolina Panthers defense credit for creating a bottleneck for Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson. He simply couldn’t find much running room. Neither starting offense was very impressive in this game.

• Tennessee rookie CB Alterraun Verner, who started again for injured CB Courtland Finnegan, continues to play well. Team observers believe he’ll wind up starting opposite Finnegan on opening day against the Oakland Raiders.

• Maybe it was because they were playing at home, but Carolina’s defense looked inspired. They got very nice performances from DEs Charles Johnson, Everette Brown, and rookie Greg Hardy. Hardy has put together a very good month of August (camp and preseason games). It’s starting to look like Carolina got a steal with the first of their three sixth-round picks.

• San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith was very calm in the pocket against the Oakland Raiders. He made good decisions and got rid of the ball on time.

• It was strange to see veteran RB Brian Westbrook in a San Francisco uniform. But it wasn’t strange to see his 17-yard run. He can still move well.

• OLB Travis LaBoy has sacks in back-to-back games for the 49ers. As noted here last week, he’s a very good fit for San Francisco’s 3-4 scheme.

• Oakland veteran QB Bruce Gradkowski was very accurate against San Francisco. He was willing to stay in the pocket and didn’t try to run.

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