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The annual Hall of Fame game kicked off the beginning of preseason football, featuring the New Orleans Saints defeating the Arizona Cardinals, 17-10.
The Saints have been bashed with unpleasant publicity as a result of the bounty scandal. All playerms and staff members are still facing initial penalties and suspensions. One of the biggest questions entering play will be, how will the Saints respond?
As for the Arizona Cardinals, they are hoping to finish over .500 after last season’s 8-8 record and second place NFC West finish. However, their biggest off-season concern is their quarterback battle. Kevin Kolb was Arizona’s starter last season, but he only played in 9 games because of an injury. Kolb had an 81.1 passer rating, threw for 1,955 yards, and had 9 touchdowns. Arizona is concerned with Kolb’s health and very well should be after his short first performance. Kolb’s first intended pass was intercepted by Saints’ safety, Malcolm Jenkins, and it got worse from there. Kolb only completed 1-of-4 passes for 4 yards and exited the game after suffering rib contusion when he was knocked down by Saints’ defensive tackle, Sedrick Ellis.
John Skelton took over the Cardinals’ offense once Kolb went down. Skelton has been giving Kolb a run for his money for the starting job and was impressive under center. Skelton completed 4-of-6 passes for 32 yards against the Saints first team defense.
Drew Brees played one possession for the Saints, completing 4-of-5 passes for 41 yards. However, back-up, Chase Daniel, had a stellar performance. Daniel completed 15-of-20 passes for 203 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Although Daniel will not see the playing field come regular season, he has shown the potential to step in and play if Brees were to miss some time.
Saints’, Mark Ingram, rushed 4 times for 14 yards and punched in a goal-line touchdown. Also, rookie running back, Travaris Cadet from Appalachian State hands’ shined, catching 8 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Although the Saints have deep running back depth, it should be intriguing to see if Cadet can make the roster.
Cardinal, Alfonso Smith, carried the load at running back for Arizona rushing 8 times for 46 yards and one touchdown. As for the Cardinals’ talented receiving core, rookie, Michael Floyd, caught one pass for 15 yards and veteran, Larry Fitzgerald, caught one pass for 10 yards.
However, rookie wideout, LaRon Byrd, led all Cardinal receivers with 4 receptions and 54 yards. Byrd was an undrafted free agent from the University of Miami and signed with the Cardinals in early May. Concern regarding these wideouts is essentially not reaching their full potential because of the lack of a true quarterback presence to distribute the ball.
The Saints will be back in action Thursday, August 9 against the New England Patriots. As for the Cardinals, they will be playing in Kansas City Friday, August 10. Fortunately for both the Saints and Cardinals, they will play an extra preseason game to help prepare for the upcoming season.