It’s preseason. Everyone’s favorite flavor is vanilla. Right?
“You know, everyone talks about what you should show (opponents), what not,” Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said. “There are certain things you don’t want to show. But they are going to get the film eventually. So do you hurt yourself by not working on that? I’ve never been a guy … we line up, we play, it’s 11-on-11, we’ve got to stop them.
“There are some things you don’t want to reveal but for the most part you are going to run your offense, you are going to run your defense, and you need to execute your special teams.”
Wilks gets his first chance to test that theory Saturday night. The Chargers come to town, Wilks gets his first game action as a head coach, and no – regardless of Wilks’ comment, I don’t expect there to be a ton of preseason flair in the game plans (such that they are.) I’m not so sure Wilks really will have a lot of flair in the games anyway. He’s talked since he walked in the door about wanting to run the football, using a fullback, and getting after it on defense with a more simplistic, one-gap defensive attack.
Besides, we all know what storyline No. 1 will be. It’s Josh Rosen’s first game. All four quarterbacks will play, so Sam Bradford will start, but it will be Rosen’s time on the field everyone will be watching. Just like Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen were scrutinized Thursday night, like Sam Darnold will be scrutinized tonight, Rosen will have the spotlight too. He’s done some nice things this offseason and in camp. He is most definitely still a rookie with a learning curve to survive.
-- I am curious to see not only Rosen but Bradford too. Judging by Wilks’ comments, I wouldn’t expect to see a ton of Bradford (or David Johnson or Fitz) but we will see how it goes.
-- Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche missed a practice earlier in the week and then came out early Thursday. Wilks said he’ll be fine, and as a starter, it’s not like Nkemdiche will likely play a ton of snaps. But it’s game action people want to see from the former first-round draft pick. Doing well in camp – which Nkemdiche has – is good. But games mean more.
-- Ultimately, I think Wilks sees it the same way. He’s talked about preseason games determining what the roster will look like.
-- Of course, watching all the receivers not name Larry Fitzgerald is important. Legitimately they are all fighting for spots. Greg Little has gotten a lot of run from Wilks. Does that translate? Is Brice Butler a guy who can be No. 2? Has Chad Williams grown since last year? Where does J.J. Nelson stand?
-- Injuries stink, but looking ahead to the regular season, Washington will be without running back Derrius Guice, who tore his ACL in the preseason opener. Big blow to the Redskins. Guice was going to be their main back.
-- Some other players to watch against the Chargers: Mason Cole as first-string center, defensive ends Vontarrius Dora and Benson Mayowa as they battle for Markus Golden’s spot, Jamar Taylor and Brandon Williams at cornerback, rookie Chase Edmonds at running back. And any undrafted rookies who might stand out in their playing time.
-- On a personal note, my Twitter feed (@Cardschatter) will have much less content in game during most of the preseason games as I reprise my role as radio sideline reporter on 98.7 Arizona Sports Station. I’ll be on the field for the Chargers, Week Two in New Orleans and Week Four at home against the Broncos. (Week Three, in Dallas, is nationally televised on “Sunday Night Football,” meaning Dave Pasch moves from TV to radio, bumping Paul Calvisi back to the radio sideline, and me back into the press box.)
Football games are here. Let the season begin, preseason-style.