So that was much better.
No one will proclaim the Cardinals perfect after their third preseason game in Minnesota.They weren't. But the offense looked much, much better. Kyler Murray looked better. The running game looked better. The rush defense ... OK, there was an 85-yard TD run that can't happen. But for a final preseason look -- and Kyler Murray and the starters aren't playing in Denver Thursday -- it was a good way to end the preseason. (And bonus, no significant injuries).
The Cardinals did basically what Kliff Kingsbury said would happen. They showed a little more of the offense. There were a couple of read-options, a couple of times when the quarterback was actually under center. Mostly, though, it stayed fairly plain. Murray did well enough Kingsbury didn't even play him the entire first half, which had been the plan. Now comes the waiting for the season opener.
-- Murray was 14-of-21, after starting 7-for-13, so he finished strong. He just missed getting a TD pass in the corner of the end zone to Christian Kirk. But he looked much better and you saw the flashes you saw in the preseason opener. He's going to be a rookie, and have ups and downs. But he'll be fine.
-- Oh, that snap clap.
-- Veteran Joe Walker started at inside linebacker with Jordan Hicks. Whether he'd be the guy if Haason Reddick can't go is TBD, but it probably is trending that way. Although I did think Dennis Gardeck had a nice game, responding well to what looked like a demotion.
-- I don't know if Damiere Byrd has won a spot, but he couldn't have done much better against the Vikings. That first 33-yard toe-tapping catch jump-started Murray's day and was an excellent play, he added an 18-yard grab and then broke off a 28-yard punt return. He's run so much with the first team all offseason, I just think he's made real inroads.
-- Rookie wide receiver KeeSean Johnson looked great again too, with seven catches and running routes that frankly, a rookie doesn't usually run. His backshoulder catch of a Murray pass in the first half was the stuff veterans are made of. On the flip side, it definitely feels like Andy Isabella is a work-in-progress.
-- Rookie defensive lineman Zach Allen seemed to make an early error overrunning a play, but made a bunch of disruptive plays to more than compensate.
-- Still way too many penalties, even taking away the snap-clap calls. There were 14 total for 111 yards. That will crush a team in the regular season.
-- Cornerback Brandon Williams wasn't in uniform. Not sure if it's a recurrence of his back issue but for a guy fighting for a roster spot, that's not ideal.
-- Kicker Zane Gonzalez may have missed a couple of practice field goals, but he's looked very good in games. Easily made all three of his attempts Saturday.
-- That's it now that we're flying home. The Cardinals are back on the field Monday.