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Broncos Spoil Cardinals' Fun In Denver

Posted Aug 31, 2017

As starters watch, backups struggle in 30-2 loss to wrap preseason

Cardinals linebacker Cap Capi had another strong performance against the Broncos to wrap up an impressive preseason.

DENVER – Brandon Williams personified the majority of the Cardinals on Thursday night.

The second-year cornerback wore a gladiator outfit and a big smile during warm-ups, posing for cameras after losing a practice competition. While he and the others with locked down roster spots had a relaxing day off, the preseason finale wasn’t as much fun for those who played.

There were multiple players hoping to end their preseason with a bang since roster cuts loom on Saturday afternoon, but coach Bruce Arians was displeased by the effort in the 30-2 loss to the Broncos.

“Like I always say for young players, you get exposure or you get exposed,” Arians said. “We had some exposed tonight. It wasn’t what we were hoping for to finish the preseason.”

While the overall showing was poor, the most important performances were individually-based. There wasn’t anyone that drastically hurt or helped their chances, but Arians did highlight the play of some guys on the bubble.

Safety Rudy Ford was lauded for a “hell of a job of coming out of center field and tackling, just like he did in the Hall of Fame Game.” Ford, who finished with a team-high seven tackles and a fumble recovery, is in a battle with Harlan Miller for the final safety spot if the team chooses to keep five.

“The mentality was to just go in and do everything to help our team win,” Ford said. “Go hard from start to finish.”

Running back Elijhaa Penny finished with 17 carries for 77 yards, a 4.5 yards-per-carry average, as he aims to make the team. Penny has lost 15 pounds since last season to become more nimble, but still fits the big-back profile that Stepfan Taylor manned last year.

“He’s still a load,” Arians said. “He’s a pretty good fullback, too, if we ever want to use him. … He would have to take Stepfan’s role to make this team. That’s yet to be seen.”

Cap Capi is pushing for the fourth outside linebacker spot and finished with two tackles for loss and a pass defensed. He also deflected a punt attempt, causing it to go only 25 yards.

“I really like my chances (to earn a roster spot),” Capi said. “I’ve been here for about a year-and-a-half, all year on practice squad, so I feel like the coaches have got a pretty good idea of what I can do.”

The punter is the only starter yet to be named. Richie Leone finished with four punts for 157 yards, a 39.3 average, and had one downed at the 2-yard-line by Krishawn Hogan. Matt Wile had five punts for 229 yards for a 45.8 average, placing four inside the 20.

Arians said the staff must go back and watch the film before making a decision. The Cardinals could also claim a punter off waivers.

“One of them will get the job and we’ll go from there,” Arians said.

Linebacker Alex Bazzie is not expected to make the team but he made a nice play early, sacking Broncos signal-caller Kyle Sloter in the end zone for a safety.

Blaine Gabbert started the game at quarterback and threw a pair of errant passes early, but found a rhythm in his final few series. He finished 5-of-10 for 51 yards. The numbers should have been better, but veteran wide receivers Jeremy Ross and Aaron Dobson each dropped perfectly-thrown passes.

The Cardinals weren’t great with Gabbert at the helm but looked discombobulated once Trevor Knight took over. The undrafted rookie free agent finished 2-of-12 for 19 yards and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

The only injury in the game was a sprained knee by defensive tackle Pasoni Tasini, but Arians said it doesn’t look serious.

That’s it for a long preseason, which began earlier than normal because of the Hall of Fame Game. The Cardinals will pare their roster down this weekend and then turn their attention to the Sept. 10 opener on the road against the Lions.

“Not a lot of good things (from Saturday night) except the preseason’s over,” Arians said.

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