Week 3 Preview: Cardinals at Redskins

Despite starting 2-0 for the first time in 17 years, the Cardinals still have plenty to prove as the competition begins to heat up this week in Washington. Arizona enters a difficult stretch in the schedule, making the first of two straight East Coast road trips. Brad Wilbricht previews this week's matchup and breaks down the Redskins' roster.

Despite head coach Jim Zorn's pass first mentality, the Redskins offense runs through RB Clinton Portis. Portis has rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 44 carries this year. He should receive plenty of work this week against the Cardinals defense allowing over four yards per carry on the ground. Backup RB Ladell Betts is an excellent receiving target out of the backfield and can spell Portis without much of a drop in talent.

Although QB Jason Campbell is learning yet another new offensive scheme, he's maintaining a QB rating of 94.3 on the season. Campbell is completing 62 percent of his passes and has not thrown an interception in Washington's first two games. Trailing 24-15 after three quarters last week against New Orleans, Campbell engineered a fourth quarter comeback culminated by a 67-yard strike to WR Santana Moss.

Campbell's primary weapons on the perimeter are Moss and Antwaan Randle El. The Redskins receiving duo has been tremendous during early season action, combining to haul in 23 receptions for 327 yards. Rookies Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly continue to progress and provide the Redskins with excellent depth at the receiver position. Furthermore, TE Chris Cooley stretches the field and supplies Campbell with a dependable dump off target when the pocket collapses. Arizona cornerbacks Eric Green and Roderick Hood must keep the Redskins receivers in check throughout the game.


DE Jason Taylor
(Getty)

On defense, the addition of former Miami Dolphins DE Jason Taylor bolstered Washington's pass rush. Taylor demands attention on the outside, freeing up defensive tackles Cornelius Griffin and Kedric Golston on the interior. Taylor and Griffin are currently tied for the team lead with one sack each. The Cardinals offensive line will have its hands full with Taylor and the Redskins' front four, but should provide QB Kurt Warner with sufficient time in the pocket.

London Fletcher directs the Redskins' linebacking corps and is currently second the NFL with 24 tackles. Fletcher is backed up in the middle by H.B. Blades while Rocky McIntosh and Marcus Washington patrol the outside linebacker positions. Washington has been nursing a hamstring injury and was forced to miss last week's game against the Saints. If Washington is unable to go for a second straight game, Blades and Alfred Fincher will look to fill the void on the outside.

In the secondary, Carlos Rogers and Shawn Springs make up an adequate cornerback tandem with Fred Smoot serving as the team's nickel back. Smoot has already made 12 tackles to go along with two pass deflections and one interception. FS LaRon Landry wreaks havoc on opposing receivers and is one of the hardest hitting safeties in the league. Laundry's presence will certainly be on the minds of Arizona wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald as the pass through the middle of the field.

Washington's special teams have struggled at times this year, both in the kicking game and in kick coverage. Kicker Shaun Suisham has connected on only three of five field goals and missed his only attempt over 40 yards. Additionally, punter Durant Brooks is averaging just 36.8 yards per punt and the Redskins have only managed to hold opponents to 15.2 yards per punt return. Cardinals return specialist Steve Breaston could be in store for his first game changing return of the season.


Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com

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