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A Hint At What's To Come, And Vikings Aftermath

In hockey – a sport I covered for a season – if a player isn't injured and doesn't play, it's called a healthy scratch. You'd rather not be one of those, because on that night, you're not good enough to be in the lineup.

The Cardinals had a bunch of healthy scratches Saturday in Minnesota, but in those cases, it meant the opposite – not dressing for the final dress rehearsal meant you probably already had a significant role for this year's team. That makes sense for the Budda Bakers and Hollywood Browns of the world. But it means a ton for a pair of rookies who have proven themselves enough – wide receiver Michael Wilson and cornerback Kei'Trel Clark.

I could see both players as starters. And with Clark especially, that shows where this team is right now. If you are young and talented, you have a shot at significant playing time. They want those players out there to learn and grow with where the team is being built.

-- Linebacker BJ Ojulari got his first playing time of the preseason, registering a tackle in minimal first-half work. Ojulari missed most of the offseason after knee surgery, and while he should be worked into playing time quickly, how much – and how much impact he can make – is TBD.

"It felt good to get some experience in the last preseason games," Ojulari said. "I can't get enough experience. That'll come with reps in practice."

Ojulari said he does feel 100 percent healthy.

-- Linebacker Krys Barnes was the only "starter" off the depth chart to play Sunday.

-- Depending on what the extent of the injuries to offensive linemen Jon Gaines II and Dennis Daley might be, their injuries Saturday could change significantly decisions made for the roster. Both looked like they were going to make the team; center, where Gaines plays, is definitely something to watch.

-- Linebacker Jesse Luketa is morphing into a jack-of-all-trades and those guys are invaluable to a roster. He's gotten pressures as an outside rusher this preseason, he plays special teams, and then against the Vikings he was deployed as a fullback for the first time (Ron Wolfley, settle down.) Luketa even caught a pass out of the backfield, although it was negated by a penalty.

"It's awesome," Gannon said. "We put a lot on his plate and he responds. He wants to play with his teammates."

-- Matt Prater probably didn't have the day he wanted, missing a 46-yard field goal just left and then knocking an extra-point attempt off the left upright. But Prater had a couple of hiccups in the preseason last year, and ended up with his best field-goal percentage since 2015.

-- Linebacker Zach McCloud went all Vontarrious Dora for the Cardinals and totaled three sacks on the game, not bad for a guy just recently signed. But his best tackle of the game might've been on teammate Sean Chandler, whom McCloud wrapped up and took down for some reason after Chandler made an interception. (Chandler was going to be tackled by some Vikings soon after anyway, but still).

"He wants to play football," Gannon said.

Soon, they will be playing it in games that count in the standings. For now, time to go home after a week in Minnesota Nice.