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Cardinals Struggle In San Diego

Posted Aug 19, 2016

Offense has rough night in 19-3 preseason loss to Chargers

Quarterback Drew Stanton tries to escape the pass rush of Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram during Friday night's 19-3 preseason loss in San Diego..

SAN DIEGO – Bruce Arians didn’t want to really talk about his health Friday night.

“I’m fine,” said the Cardinals coach, who had to go to the hospital earlier in the week with a colon problem. “Just pissed.”

What wasn’t fine was Arians’ offense, which struggled immensely during a 19-3 loss to the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. After a preseason opener in which the first-team offense provided a scoring drive and a couple of big plays, none were found after a week of practices in California.

Adding to the rough night was the news linebacker Alex Okafor tore a biceps tendon in practice Tuesday night. He must decide if he will have season-ending surgery or try to play with it.

That at least happened earlier in the week. Arians said he didn’t think there were any injuries Friday.

“That’s about the only good news,” Arians said.

Arians was irritated but not panicked. Arians waved away the idea that there was reason to worry long term.

“We’ll go back to work,” Arians said. “That’s why you play the preseason. These don’t count other than you find out a lot about yourself.”

Quarterback Carson Palmer’s night lasted 11 plays and eight passes. Four were complete, one was nearly intercepted and another was intercepted – a quick screen sniffed out by blitzing cornerback Brandon Flowers, who was only a few feet away from Palmer as he grabbed the ball behind the line of scrimmage and raced 25 yards for a touchdown.

It was a great play by Flowers – Palmer audibled out of a running play after correctly diagnosing the blitz – but the pass could have been executed better, both Arians and Palmer acknowledged.

The Cardinals couldn’t run either, gaining just 18 yards on 10 combined carries from David Johnson, Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington.

“Every part of you says it’s the preseason because it is the preseason,” Palmer said. “We have to continue to work. You don’t let it frustrate you. You look at the areas that are good with the areas that are bad, evaluate them, and move forward.”

Backup Drew Stanton also struggled, for a second straight week overthrowing a receiver into the waiting arms of a centerfield-playing safety for an easy interception. Stanton finished only 2-of-7 for 32 yards. The Cardinals didn’t score until Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, and even that came after Catanzaro missed a 48-yard try earlier in the game.

Although the Chargers did not play starting quarterback Philip Rivers, the Cardinals (0-2) did get good work out of their defensive starters. The Chargers did score 10 when the first-team defense was playing, but seven came on the interception return and the other field goal came after a 61-yard return of Stanton’s pick to the Arizona 9-yard line.

“We were a physical defense but that (performance) is not the standard,” money linebacker Deone Bucannon said. “We want to win games at the end of the day. There are some things we need to fix. This is just the second preseason game. We’ll get it right.”

All along, Arians wanted the Cardinals to be tested with a week out of the ordinary. Between Arians’ illness and the intrasquad practices, it was definitely different – and then came a flat showing Friday.

“A veteran team should show up,” Arians said. “I didn’t like the way we started the game and that set the tone the whole game.”

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