The new-look Cardinals open the season in St. Louis Sunday.
ST. LOUIS – The Cardinals begin their season Sunday against the Rams.
Beyond that, even the head coach isn't sure what is in store.
"It's hard," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "So many new faces on this team, different players in different positions, understanding how they are going to react or handle this situation, I don't know. I don't have anything to base it off of.
"I get the sense they are confident, that if they do what they are supposed to do, they limit their mistakes, then we will have a chance to make some plays. That's what you like."
It's hard not to notice the roster turnover for the Cardinals. Starting with the quarterback – Kurt Warner became Derek Anderson, via Matt Leinart – the flips and switches in the lineup have left questions lingering. Even the Cards themselves have said repeatedly it's impossible to know how the team will mesh in games that count.
The doubt outside the team is large enough that, suddenly, the Rams are the chic pick to upset the Cards. Yet the Cardinals are facing a team that won just once in 2009 and are starting a rookie quarterback in Sam Bradford. The Rams have 14 rookies on the roster.
Plus, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo noted, "these are the NFC West champs we are playing."
"It's still the same coaching staff and there is still a lot of talent on that roster," Spagnuolo added. "I'm sure there are certain guys they will miss initially that they had last year, but I have too much respect for the staff and the players. There is still plenty of talent."
Anderson will have Pro Bowl Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, now that Fitzgerald has returned from his knee injury. Running back Beanie Wells (knee) probably will end up sitting out after missing a week of practice, but starter Tim Hightower has had 100-yard performances in each of his two career trips to St. Louis.
Defensively, the Cards are ready to unveil some new looks on Bradford, as well. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said that doesn't necessarily mean a blitz every play, but the Cards did nothing but show base looks in the preseason. Bradford can guess what is coming, but he won't know for sure, not off anything he has seen on video.
The Cards, in fact, point to the control of Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson as the more important part of the game plan. Bradford insisted his status and the youth of his receiving corps won't factor in to the Rams' plans – "To say we're going to lean on (Jackson) more because of the inexperience at other positions, I don't think that's necessarily true," Bradford said – but it is hard to believe otherwise.
More than anything, though, the Cardinals want to see what they are about, and the season opener gives them the chance to do that. Training camp and the preseason always tends to drag over the last couple of weeks. By then, there is little to prove by the guys who will be playing often.
Sunday is when the Cards reach the real proving ground.
"I am tired of getting hit for no reason," Hightower said. "You come back, you're getting treatment for this and that and you think, 'This game doesn't even count.'
"You train all offseason for those 16 opportunities and hoping you get 17 or 18 or 20. This is the time when you put all the offseason work, all those dreams you check off on your board at home, this is the time to see it come to fruition."
Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information
How To Watch: Chargers vs. Cardinals, Week 12
Check out all the ways to watch, listen and live stream the Los Angeles Chargers at the Arizona Cardinals on November 27, 2022.
Marquise Brown Activated; D.J. Humphries, Zach Ertz To Injured Reserve
Four of five offensive line starters now on injured list
Cardinals Working To Get Focus On Games Ahead
Hard loss in Mexico and coaching changes have made for challenge
Injury Report: Week 12 Vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Check in on the health of the Cardinals heading into their Week 12 matchup with the Chargers in Arizona
Family Reunion For Ben Niemann At Cardinals-Chargers
Linebacker has carved out role on Vance Joseph's defense
Greg Dortch Carries Torch For More Playing Time
Wide receiver coming off first 100-yard game of career
Takeaways From 'Hard Knocks In Season': Colt McCoy Almost Retired
Episode manages to slip in Kugler situation hours before air
Kyler Murray Expected Back In Starting Lineup Against Chargers
Quarterback has missed last two games with hamstring injury
Cardinals Find Ways To Adjust With Another Coaching Change
Bumpy season now finds Heiden heading up run game
Cardinals Bring Back Pharoh Cooper To Practice Squad
Moore, Dortch injuries lead to need at wide receiver