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Zeke Turner Excels As Cardinals Drop Preseason Finale To Broncos

Roster decisions loom following 21-10 loss

S Zeke Turner celebrates his sack against the Broncos.
S Zeke Turner celebrates his sack against the Broncos.

Thursday night meant nothing to the Cardinals stars, a final distraction before they turned their focus to the regular season.

It meant everything to Zeke Turner and other players on the roster bubble.

The Cardinals wrapped up their preseason with a 21-10 loss to the Broncos at University of Phoenix Stadium. As the starters watched from the sideline, Turner -- an undrafted rookie out of the University of Washington -- and the other backups played their heart out, aiming to make a final impression as roster cuts loom on Saturday afternoon.

 "It was definitely intense," Turner said. "Everybody knew they had to bring their 'A' game."

Coach Steve Wilks said Turner was one of the players who helped his cause to make the team. He moved from safety earlier in the offseason to linebacker and looked like a natural there, finishing with a team-high 10 tackles, a sack and a pair of quarterback hits.

"He accepted the challenge and the change," Wilks said. "He performed well."

Wide receiver Trent Sherfield also played well, catching a pair of passes for a team-best 44 yards. The Vanderbilt product is another undrafted rookie who came in as an underdog but has given himself a shot to make the roster.

While Turner and Sherfield looked good, Wilks wasn't happy with the overall performance by the Cardinals, who lost for the first time this preseason. They allowed 347 total yards and gained only 162.

"We took a step back tonight," Wilks said. "And I'm not looking at who was out there. This is the Cardinals. The expectation does not change."

Mike Glennon started the game at quarterback and finished 8-of-10 passing for 69 yards and a touchdown. He pitted the Cardinals to an early 7-0 lead by finding Greg Little on a 2-yard touchdown pass with 3:54 remaining in the first quarter. Defensive end Jacquies Smith set up the scoring drive with an interception, the Cardinals' 17th takeaway of the preseason.

It was Little's only catch of the game. The former second-round pick is aiming to make a regular season roster for the first time since 2015.

"When you give it your all, and you put everything out there, I can go home happy," Little said.

The Broncos trailed early but scored 21 consecutive points to take control. Quarterback Paxton Lynch was impressive, completing 14-of-15 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals' only score of the second half came on a 36-yard field goal by Matt McCrane with 5:02 remaining in the contest.

First-round pick Josh Rosen didn't play for a second straight game as a precaution after he hit his thumb on a helmet during practice last week.

"I didn't think it was worth the risk," Wilks said. "I think you've got to be smart this time of the year. People are going to question it and say, 'Well, he doesn't have a lot of game experience.' I'll deal with that when the season gets here. I definitely didn't want him to have a setback tonight."

The Cardinals didn't play cohesively, but this game was more about individuals, anyway. The majority of the players who were on the field won't be around after cuts. The precious few on the bubble hope they showed enough to stick.

"I can't do anything now," Turner said. "I had to leave it all out on the field through camp and the first four games. I just have to see what happens."

Images from the fourth preseason game on Thursday night at University of Phoenix Stadium