San Diego Chargers vs Arizona Cardinals
Friday August 19 2016 Qualcomm Stadium
San Diego California 6:00 PM PST
After a couple of days of joint practices this week, the two teams get ready to battle in the second game of the 2016 preseason. The Chargers are fresh off a loss to the Titans last week, while the Cardinals were beat down by the Raiders 31-10. It is preseason and it is very early to pass any judgement on any team at this point, so their records are meaningless. The main concern for each and every team this time of year is health. The Chargers and Cardinals must get their much-needed reps in while at the same time avoiding any injuries.
What to look for when the Chargers have the ball
Philip Rivers will likely play a series or two, perhaps more. The O-Line will get more work together and that is a great thing. This unit needs reps at game speed in order to further gain cohesiveness. The Cardinals have a very quick defense and that will be key in the Bolts protection of Philip Rivers. He must not take any major hits. Though the Cardinals will likely not use any exotic blitz packages, it can still be scary seeing your veteran QB dropping back in a meaningless game. Keep Philip healthy and upright, that is the top priority.
Melvin Gordon will get plenty of action as the coaching staff tries to further give the running back more confidence. The catch and run last week for a touchdown was a thing of beauty. If the Chargers can continue to get the ball in Gordon’s hands in open space, he will be a hand-full for opposing defenses. Travis Benjamin and Keenan Allen will get reps and expect to see Rivers utilize both his receivers. It will also be fun to see the further development of Hunter Henry, who looks to be a really special player. Derek Watt is another enjoyable person to watch on offense as he brings an old school attitude to the fullback position. He will open many holes this season for Melvin Gordon.
What to look for when the Cardinals have the ball
Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald are always ones to keep an eye on. All though both veterans will not be in the game very long. John Brown is an exciting receiver and he must be contained after the catch. Look for some screens to him as the Cardinals work on that aspect of their game.The safeties will need to step up and make a play. The loss of Eric Weddle could be huge for the Chargers as they adjust to new leadership at the position. Dwight Lowery, Darrell Stuckey, Jahleel Addae and Adrian Phillips are all under a giant microscope this season.
The Cardinals will also run the ball a ton as the Chargers natural weakness on defense is their inability to stop the run. The Titans gashed them last year and the Cardinals will attempt to do the same in order to control the clock and maintain time of possession. Chris Johnson and David Johnson are both talented runners and the Chargers will be challenged by both runners. Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o must both step up on Friday.
Players to watch
As mentioned the team is trying to boost his confidence. His knee does not appear to be an issue at the moment but the team does need to be cautious with him. He is young and will push himself. Which is a great thing because he is showing real character. However there is a fine line with a knee injury, especially in a brutal sport like football. Look for Gordon to get some touches early with the #1 offense and then be pulled after some positive runs. The Chargers definitely want him ending the game on a positive note in order to keep building that confidence.
It will be fun to see this young man work with Rivers. These two have the potential to be a very dangerous matchup. Benjamin can stretch the defense with his speed and thus pull move coverage to his side of the ball. In doing that Keenan Allen, James Jones and Antonio Gates will benefit on the shorter more exact routes. Benjamin brings an exciting aspect the Chargers haven’t had in a while from the wide receiver position. Speed.
Seeing him match up against Keenan Allen will be fun to see. The two have already had several great one on one matchups during this weeks joint practices. Allen has done really well against one of the best corners in the league. Peterson is a really special player and the fact Allen has done well against him early bodes well for the season Keenan Allen is about to have.
Patrick Peterson vs Keenan Allen
Though we will only get a brief example of this show, it should be fun to watch. Expect some balls thrown towards Allen as he wants to work his game against a top defender. Peterson also needs the game action too. The two young pro-bowl players will likely have many years of matchups as they both grow in the NFL.
Brandon Mebane vs Cardinals O-Line
The “Stump” or “Fire Hydrant” is exactly that. He was hard to contain last week against the Titans and was often in the backfield on running plays. Teams will likely run side to side on the Chargers now that the team has a solid presence in the middle of the line.
The Bolts will come from behind with the third stringers in action to win 27-24