Cardinals quarterback Matt Barkley scrambles during the Cardinals' 31-10 loss to the Raiders on Friday night.
Matt Barkley's completion percentage and Bruce Arians' assessment of his play were in sync Friday night, but that wasn't the outcome either wanted.
The Cardinals quarterback struggled in his first game with the team in a 31-10 preseason loss to the Raiders, as Barkley finished 8-of-24 for 121 yards and an interception.
"Good and bad and ugly," Arians said.
Barkley made a few nice throws – and wasn't helped from a couple drops by receivers -- but threw his interception in the red zone and also left a few other passes up for grabs. While the numbers weren't good, what left Arians most frustrated were the pre-snap mistakes.
He said Barkley forgot to send a wide receiver in motion three times, messing up plays before they began.
"He can make every throw," Arians said. "It's just all those little things that he's got to clean up. … When it's just the formations, you should learn those in high school. You read the wristband. It ain't real hard."
Barkley is aiming to make the roster as the third quarterback, but Arians has said both Barkley and undrafted free agent Jake Coker need to step up their play to secure a spot.
Barkley rushed out of the locker room after the game because his wife was going into labor, but gave a quick synopsis of his performance.
"I thought it was all right," Barkley said. "I thought we did a good job moving the ball, but like B.A. probably said, you need to put it in the end zone. I felt good out there, just being back playing again. I need to work a little bit on timing with the receivers and get that down. That just comes with reps and knowing these guys. Overall, it was OK, but we want points."
TROY NIKLAS UNLEASHES THE FIRE
Cardinals fans weren't the only ones wondering if Troy Niklas was a draft bust heading into training camp. The thought creeped into the head of the former second-round pick as well.
"I've always had that self-belief, but having some of those injuries, they kind of make you question it a little bit," Niklas said.
He began quieting that criticism by putting together a string of impressive practices in camp, and that work translated to the game on Friday. Niklas had a pair of catches for 44 yards, including a 32-yarder in which he bounced off a would-be tackler and rumbled down to the Oakland 5-yard line.
Niklas would have had a touchdown catch if Drew Stanton didn't overthrow him on the next play, but it was still a nice outing. For Niklas, it was a big step mentally as he aims to live up to his lofty draft status.
"I feel like as a player, you kind of express yourself through your play," Niklas said. "You have this fire inside and you just can't let it out. I feel like today, I was able to dig deep and unleash some of that fire inside."
The Cardinals' starting tight ends are Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham, but Arians said Niklas could force his way onto the field if he keeps playing this well.
"I thought Troy Niklas played one hell of a ballgame," Arians said. "He's put together a great eight days of practice and showed up on game day. He's pressing for a lot of playing time."
BOEHM GETS THE REPS
Rookie Evan Boehm hasn't done enough to seriously challenge for the starting center job, but made the most of a large chunk of playing time against the Raiders.
The position has been hit hard by injuries – Earl Watford and Taylor Boggs didn't play -- so Boehm was on the field for all but the Cardinals' opening possession.
"That one series felt like an eternity," Boehm said. "But no, it was a good time. I felt like my confidence got rolling early, and that's what I really needed, my confidence to get built. Just go out there, play football and have fun, and just do what I did that got me here."
NO MAJOR INJURIES
Backup offensive tackle John Wetzel suffered a hip flexor, but Arians said the team came out of the game pretty clean, and that no one would be affected past Sunday's practice.
Images from the Cardinals' first preseason game against the Raiders on Friday night