The Cardinals leave Flagstaff for a game in Canton Sunday.
CANTON, Ohio -- If any team dominated the NFL's offseason landscape, it was the New Orleans Saints, and to have them as the opponent in the Hall of Fame game Sunday in Canton, Ohio would seem a recipe to drown out the Cardinals.
It's the first game of the NFL preseason, and there is little doubt the Saints and their punishment from running an alleged bounty scheme will claim most of the spotlight. But the Cardinals brush away such ideas. One of the reasons to get a fifth exhibition game was to have more time to prep for the regular season, and that's all the Cards have on their collective mind.
"One of the coaches mentioned that, but I haven't thought about it one time," quarterback Kevin Kolb said. "I really haven't. I'm sure when we get up there we will hear more about it. But hey, we're always kind of behind the scenes here, so it's no big deal for us."
The Cards fit neatly into the narrative of the bounties, since one of the specific instances listed by the league when announcing the investigation was the Cardinals-Saints playoff game in January, 2010 and the Saints' treatment of then-Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner.
Not that any hard feelings linger for those who were there.
"Unfortunately, the quarterback is usually the best player and you have five angry guys who want nothing more than to get to him," center Lyle Sendlein said. "I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary."
For the most part, the Cards get ordinary for the preseason opener. Sure, they are playing at Fawcett Stadium next door to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but beyond that – and the fact it's an fifth preseason game – the night will play out a lot like any other preseason opener.
Kolb will start at quarterback but John Skelton will likely get a little first-unit time too. The starters, however, probably won't go very deep into the first half as the Cardinals take a look at the back half of the 90-man roster.
Safety Adrian Wilson (calf) won't play, and the Cards are still without their top two running backs Beanie Wells (PUP list – knee) and Ryan Williams (rehabbing patella tendon) as the team takes their time bringing both back.
The Cardinals will also get a chance at a private tour of the Hall of Fame Saturday night, another perk of the weekend. Playing a game, however, is to what the Cards most look forward after their week-and-a-half in Flagstaff.
"You are anxious to put it to work," Kolb said. "We won't get a ton of work (as starters) but going to Canton will be cool, with the atmosphere and getting on the field."
The Saints don't have their head coach because of Sean Payton's suspension, but they do have quarterback Drew Brees. That and the Saints' explosive offense, even this early in the season, should provide a barometer for a Cards' defense that expects to be good.
"I know those guys like to spread the ball around," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "They have a lot of weapons and a gunslinger as a quarterback. It's going to be fun. We don't know how long we're going to be in there but hopefully I can get my hands on at least one of those passes."