Here's what to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Redskins at State Farm Stadium:
Remember the Humble Rumble?
David Johnson is still talking about reaching 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. He looks, both in practices in training camp and in his brief number of snaps during preseason games, like he is playing like it is 2016 again. His body is in the best shape it's been going into a season since before high school, given how little he has been hit since he got hurt in September, 2017. His offensive line is healthy (OK, he has a rookie center now, but that group has had more than a month to mesh.) Everything is set up for Johnson to burst back on the field again. The Cards need their No. 1 offensive threat/playmaker to be just that. Every week.
Welcome back, Adrian Peterson
When we last left Adrian Peterson, he was being helped off the field against Jacksonville with a neck injury at State Farm Stadium, never to play another down for the Cardinals. His brief Cards' tenure lasted six games, and there were some major highs (including monster games against the Bucs and 49ers) and obvious dips. The Cardinals released him in March, he just was signed a couple weeks ago by Washington, and, as Peterson is wired to do, he is anxious to show people he still can play. Peterson is expected to start and it's not like this defensive line doesn't know what's coming. Slowing Peterson – and the Washington run game – is again crucial to how this game plays out.
TUoffTOz meets Alex Smith
For the uninitiated, "TUoffTOz" is the mantra of cornerback Bené Benwikere – "Turn up for turnovers." It's about getting hyped for the big play, and the Cardinals had plenty of those in the preseason, forcing 17 in the four games. Now the Cardinals face an offense that no one is quite sure what it will be, seeing that it is quarterback Alex Smith's first year in the system. But Smith rarely turns the ball over, period. That makes for an intriguing first challenge for a defense that craves turnovers, and likely will need to force some for the Cardinals' overall success.
Bradford + McCoy + young receiving corps = what exactly?
Sam Bradford is healthy and looks as accurate as a quarterback could be. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy a) has years of experience adjusting offenses for various quarterbacks and b) has shown little of what the Cardinals offense might/could be to this point. Johnson is going to be the anchor and the workhorse. That is obvious. Rookie running back Chase Edmonds and tight end Ricky Seals-Jones will have roles. But when it comes to the offense, you have to throw the ball to win in this league. Larry Fitzgerald should manage to grab another 100 balls, if that's the direction the Cards go – and that would make sense. The rest of the receivers, it's so hard to know what to expect.
Steve Wilks, here we go
Steve Wilks has already had his first game as a head coach. But this is the first one that will count. All the months prepping for this moment, so much uncertainty about how this team will perform. But Wilks is confident – that's his personality – and starting at home makes a difference. Washington has to come cross-country, and the set up seems to be perfect for a good start. The last time a Cardinals' coach won his first game at the job goes all the way back to interim coach Larry Wilson at the end of the 1979 season. Wilks would like to update that stat.