Rookies Brian Johnson (65) and Lyle Sendlein (63) try and earn a roster spot while blocking during Thurday night's preseason finale in Denver.
DENVER – On a night when those fighting to stay on the roster were trying to "show up" one final time, the Cardinals received little impact.
But the preseason is finally over, capped off in a 21-3 loss to the Broncos at Invesco Field Thursday evening, and the Cards suffered no serious injuries in the game. With the Monday night opener in San Francisco a little more than a week away, that is enough.
"Tomorrow, everyone is 0-0," running back Edgerrin James said with a smile.
The Cardinals (0-4) finished winless in the preseason, but that mattered little to Whisenhunt, who was busy auditioning the back end of his roster.
Multiple times Whisenhunt chose to do something that he wouldn't normally do in the preseason in order to test-drive players. For instance, he tried a short field goal to see the ability of new holder Mike Barr. Later he went for it on fourth-and-2 on the Denver 8 instead of kicking a field goal.
"It is hard not to win a football game," Whisenhunt said. "But you have to balance that ... especially with being a first-year staff, you've got so many players you have to look at in those situations.
"There were a couple of situations I would have done differently in the regular season."
The Broncos (2-2) were doing the same. As is Denver's custom, the Broncos didn't even allow many of their starters to play. The starting quarterback was Darrell Hackney – who is third-string on the depth chart. Jay Cutler and Patrick Ramsey did not play.
While the Cards' backups got their playing time, they didn't leave a huge impression. Final cutdowns must be made by Saturday, although there is a chance Whisenhunt makes some Friday.
Asked if he saw anyone that caught his eye, Whisenhunt acknowledged "I didn't."
"But that's what we have the tape for and we will look at that (Friday)."
Whatever the roster might turn out to be immediately, the Cardinals will search the waiver wire for the cuts from other teams.
"We will take the opportunity to take a look at all the players on the waiver wire," general manager Rod Graves said. "Anywhere we feel there is an opportunity to upgrade we will look carefully at.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we came out of it with a couple of claims."
As for the game, the Cards' first-team offense, not surprisingly, had little trouble moving the ball against the Broncos' backups. The running game did the damage, with James gaining 24 yards on three carries and Marcel Shipp 37 yards on four tries.
The drive did stall at the Denver 1-yard line, forcing a Neil Rackers field goal. But that was enough work for starting quarterback Matt Leinart, who finished the preseason without being sacked or throwing an interception.
"We moved the ball," Leinart said. "We just need to capitalize in the red zone.
"The preseason is over. No more excuses."
Kurt Warner also took a turn with one series with the first-team offense, throwing a couple of passes (completing one) before the Cards had to punt.
At that point, the first quarter was over, and so was the night for all of the Cards' starters on both sides of the ball.
"I know they didn't play their starters but I felt good about our first teams, both offensively and defensively," Whisenhunt said.
And he felt good to get the preseason over with.
"I am ready to start the season," Whisenhunt added. "I can't wait for the first game."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org