Cardinals Five to Watch: Week Three

The Cardinals silenced the doubters with a 14-point road win in Week 2. They now have a bigger opportunity as they host one of the AFC's best teams on national television. Here's five players to watch for in what could turn out to be an offensive shootout. Andy Bishop breaks it down.

QB Kurt Warner

Kurt Warner had a dramatically better performance in Week 2, throwing two touchdowns and completing over 92 percent of his passes. In both games in 2009, Warner has done a great job of taking what the defense gives him.

While Warner has used his underneath and check down options effectively, the deep passing game has yet to take off. Expect the Cardinals to take some shots downfield to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin against the NFL's top ranked pass defense.

One reason Warner was much more effective in Week 2 was pass protection. After getting sacked three times in the season opener, the 12-year veteran didn't go down once last week. Warner will need a valiant performance from his O-line Sunday—particularly the tackles, who face off against Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

RB Beanie Wells

Rookie RB Beanie Wells was forced to carry a football everywhere he went after fumbling twice against Jacksonville. Luckily for Arizona, Wells's fumbles didn't cost the team, but mistakes like his must be avoided.

Wells teamed with running mate Tim Hightower to give the Cardinals the balance rushing attack they've craved for so many years. They combined for 116 yards on 22 carries (5.3 ypc).

The reason Indianapolis has the league's highest ranked pass defense is because they've allowed 353 yards on the ground in the first two weeks. While Kurt Warner is sure to get his passes in, expect the Cardinals to use Wells plenty in an attempt to exploit Indy's weak run defense.

CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Week 2 proved to be much more productive for second-year corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Ro Cro racked up five tackles, forced a fumble, and intercepted David Garrard. It's this big-play ability that the Cardinals love about Rodgers-Cromartie.

The Colts passing attack may not be as scary as it has been for the last several years, but any offense led by Peyton Manning is dangerous. His favorite target, Reggie Wayne, will see plenty of balls thrown his way Sunday.

While Bryant McFadden may be matched up against Wayne more often, Ro Cro will get his fair share of chances. Rodgers-Cromartie, and the secondary as a whole, needs a solid performance against one of the better offenses in the league.

LB Clark Haggans

With fellow OLB Chike Okeafor sidelined with an injury in week 2 Clark Haggans picked up the slack, finishing with five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

Arizona wouldn't mind seeing another performance like that from Haggans against the Colts. Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and he only gets better if he has time.

The best way to slow down Manning is to get pressure on him. Watch for Haggans as he battles tackle Ryan Diem, whose in his ninth year keeping Manning's jersey clean. If Haggans and the rest of the pass rush can get to Manning, the opportunity for turnovers will increase.

SS Adrian Wilson

Adrian Wilson was his usual self against Jacksonville, compiling six tackles and a half sack. Wilson's has a bit more of a challenge this week, however.

In addition to blitzing and putting pressure on Manning, Arizona will ask Wilson to cover TE Dallas Clark at times. After an ordinary day in Week 1, Clark torched Miami's defense on Monday night, hauling in seven receptions for 183 yards and a score.

The best way for Wilson to get the upper hand on Clark is to be physical with him. If he can indeed limit Clark's production, and the secondary can hold Wayne in check, Manning will be forced to throw to the younger, inexperience receivers.


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