If there was an MVP to be named for the two weeks of training camp leading into the Cardinals’ first preseason game, it would have been
Carson Palmer. Or Tyrann Mathieu.
It only made sense to have the two perform the same in their brief appearances Saturday night at University of Phoenix Stadium during a 34-19 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. Call it #CardsCamp continued.
“You want to be on the same page with everyone,” Palmer said, and that’s exactly what the Cardinals (0-1) got out of their starters.
“We accomplished what we wanted to – we got a good start for our first-team offense and defense,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Then we found out a lot about young guys. Some can’t tackle, others hold on running plays.
“We don’t judge now. We judge when we watch the tape. But there were enough good things, and enough really, really poor things to take away from tonight that we will grow off of.”
Palmer got his one series but it was seven plays and generated a touchdown. The quarterback completed all four of his passes for 77 yards, the longest of which was a 57-yard laser to running back
Andre Ellington, splitting two defenders and hitting Ellington in stride.
“I was just very focused,” Palmer said. “I was excited all day until I got here, and there’s just a great focus – going through my plays in my head, my reads, my checks, my adjustments. Just a very business-like, very workmanlike day.”
Ellington, who didn’t truly have a full day of training camp practice until Thursday because of a hamstring issue, looked good. He had a total of five touches on the seven-play drive. The last play was a two-yard touchdown run, although the Cardinals had hoped his long pass would have ended in the end zone and not the Kansas City 5-yard line.
“I told him to get in shape because he had never been caught before,” Arians said.
“They gave me a hard time, but that’s alright,” Ellington said. “I’ve got some work to do.”
That was enough for the entire starting offense, with all 11 leaving for good for the night.
“That’s just what we’re capable of,” Ellington added. “We have playmakers. We can score on any drive.”
And the entire starting defense – minus cornerback
Jerraud Powers, who was held out – also only had a single series, punctuated by Mathieu. In five plays, the Chiefs lost two rushing yards and then Alex Smith’s down-the-middle pass was picked.
“He's like a magnet to the football,” defensive end
Calais Campbell said. “I don't know how he does it."
Mathieu has had a handful of interceptions in training camp already, so it only made sense.
“I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been getting my hands on some balls in practice, so it definitely translated to the game today,” Mathieu said.
The rest of the game wasn’t as smooth. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead the Chiefs (1-0) scored the next 31 points, until rookie defensive end
Rodney Gunter sacked Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray for a safety.
In the battle for third-string quarterback,
Logan Thomas looked relatively solid in the pocket, his interception not his fault after a bullet pass hit receiver Jaron Brown in the chest and ricocheted to Kansas City linebacker Ramik Wilson. Phillip Sims threw a late touchdown pass.
The running game never found a lot of room, though, and defensively, many of the young players fighting for spots on the roster struggled, including a secondary that made veteran backup quarterback Chase Daniel (17 for 21, 189 yards, three touchdowns) look like a Pro Bowler.
But there are still three preseason games and two full weeks of training camp practices left to sort that out.
“It was a night to see if the young guys could win the game,” Arians said. “They couldn’t get it done.”