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Friday Five - Cardinals At Giants

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A glance at five top storylines for the Cardinals-Giants game Sunday at MetLife Stadium:

Stalking Eli

The Giants' passing game, not just in the opener but throughout the preseason has been, in a word, terrible. The protection hasn't been there and neither has the communication between quarterback Eli Manning and his receivers. The Lions were in Manning's face all game during the opener. The Cardinals don't have the same pass rush as Detroit, and now John Abraham is missing, but the Cards need to make a big push to get in Manning's face. Sacks aren't mandatory. Pressure is.

Finding Fitz – or not

Bruce Arians has made clear that the Cardinals are not going to be forcing the ball to Larry Fitzgerald. But it's hard to believe Fitzgerald won't get more opportunities this week, given the way Michael Floyd played and the reality that the Cards need more production from Fitz to upgrade the offensive efficiency. The days of Fitzgerald gaining 1,400 yards with the Cardinals are probably long past. But he's still a dangerous weapon, and truthfully, that includes his time as a decoy drawing the defense's attention.

Avoiding the angry Giants

To play a team in their home opener after they have been embarrassed in a game – which is exactly what the Lions did to the Giants – can be a trap for a visitor. "They're wounded," Arians said. "They have a lot of pride." Of course, sometimes it just means the team isn't very good. The Giants figure to improve as the season goes on, as Manning and his teammates get used to the offense of new coordinator Ben McAdoo. The Cardinals benefit from getting them early, but must take advantage.

Palmer, pocket. Pocket, Palmer.

The Giants have some guys who can rush the passer. Carson Palmer showed in the opener he can still be nimble afoot if needed. But the quarterback also ended up limited this week because his right shoulder was sore, which is what happens when you get out of the pocket and absorb more blows than any head coach wants to see. The offensive line was solid in the first game, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said, but this is a new game and the Cards need to keep Palmer away from harm.

The early wake-up call

It doesn't happen much anymore, these early games that used to be a Cardinals' staple when they played in the NFC East. In fact, after the 10 a.m. (Arizona time) kickoff this weekend in New York, the only early game will be the 11 a.m. kickoff in Dallas. The Atlanta game later in the year won't kick off until 2 p.m. Arizona time, or 4 p.m. in Atlanta. Nevertheless, that doesn't help this week. The Cardinals are practicing a little earlier this week to adjust the bodies to the time, but that's not a guarantee to a fast start – something the Cardinals need.  

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