Behind Enemy Lines: Chargers vs.Cardinals, II

The Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers both look to redeem themselves after a loss a piece in the preseason opener. Both teams want a win at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday, but Ken Whisenhunt and Norv Turner bring more than one agenda to the field. SDBoltReport.com's Michael Lombardo continues to set the scene, as he pitches five questions to AZRedReport.com's Amberly Dressler.

Michael Lombardo: Once Kurt Warner checks out, how much playing time will QBs Matt Leinart and Brian St. Pierre each receive? Is there any chance St. Pierre outplays Leinart to the point where he claims the No. 2 job?

Amberly Dressler: Matt Leinart and Brian St. Pierre should receive approximately the same amount of time on Saturday. Last week, Leinart took 14 attempts to St. Pierre's 10.

In order to keep St. Pierre from fleeing to Kansas City with Todd Haley, he promised St. Pierre a solid chance at the No. 2 role. If Leinart and St. Pierre's performances against the Pittsburgh Steelers' second string were any indication, Leinart will resume his No. 2 role.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt was pleased with Leinart's performance, as he made "a couple big-time throws," which included fitting players in a window and looking comfortable in the pocket and huddle. While Whisenhunt thought St. Pierre didn't get a lot of help from receivers, who dropped balls, St. Pierre didn't show anything that would overtake Leinart.

ML: It seems like the Cardinals have been plagued by injuries and underwhelming performances at the tight end position. What does the depth chart look like going into Saturday's game? Are there any young tight ends capable of wreaking havoc in the second half?

AD: The Cardinals tight end corps has been the most plagued position on the roster and you'll see why. One or two good performances by any of the tight ends on the depth chart would cement a starting role; it's still pretty wide open considering the status of the penciled in starters. Stephen Spach entered the preseason off an ACL surgery and Ben Patrick will miss the first four games due to violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs. Veteran Anthony Becht is also in the mix. He's dealing with a hamstring issue.

Leonard Pope and Dominique Byrd played with the second string last week, which should be about the same for Saturday. Pope might see the most reps out of the two. Leinart likes to use Pope as a target. But don't expect any big performances from the tight ends unit.

ML: How are the Cardinals taking to new defensive coordinator Bill Davis? How will his defense differ from that run by Clancy Pendergast?

AD: Clancy Pendergast's departure was just a matter of time, so the transition to Bill Davis has gone pretty smoothly. Bill Davis wants what the whole team wants. He wants his defense to be more aggressive and more attacking. He put his ideas in black and white when he said he wants the Cardinals defense to make big plays and to not give up big plays.

ML: The Cardinals allowed 36 passing touchdowns last season, more than any team in the NFL, yet is seems like they have some talented players in the secondary. What improvements have you seen on the back end of the defense now that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is entering his second season in the NFL and Antrel Rolle is going into his second campaign as a free safety?

AD: Rodgers-Cromartie made huge contributions his rookie season. He lived up to the Cromartie name. The Cardinals half of the cousin pair looks to out-do his cousin in his second year. Rodgers-Cromartie puts the time in where it counts during the offseason: the classroom. Rodgers-Cromartie will put the X's and O's to work soon.

The experience of veteran offseason free agent acquisition Bryant McFadden will go a long way in developing and influencing Rodgers-Cromartie into one of the elite corners in the league. In fact, he adds a level of leadership to the entire secondary. McFadden, couple with Adrian Wilson, make the secondary look top-notch.

Rolle will benefit as well. His play in the first half of last season was dismal, but he made the appropriate adjustments and learned the role much better. Rolle should have it down pat this year.

ML: On every team, the last few roster spots typically go to young players who earn their keep on special teams. What young Cardinals players are fighting for these roles, and who should we keep an eye on in Saturday's contest?

AD: Undrafted rookie free agent Michael Ray Garvin, a return specialist, would have been amongst this group. But he recently injured his knee, an injury that will need arthriscopic surgery. He will be out for a couple weeks, which means his climb, to even the practice squad, is much higher. But he's extremely good at what he does.

As for healthy guys, count 24-year-old WR Lance Long in this group. He is a training camp standout for two years running. Surrounded by the top receiving talent in the league, he nabs the coaching staff's attention every day in practice. Long will leave it all on the field, and then some, for a crack at the roster.


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