Preseason as a whole is about getting through unscathed and giving nothing away to prying eyes for when the real business begins. When you are facing off with your opponents in your opening game of the regular season just a week later this applies all the more.
The upcoming Monday night encounter between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers really set the tone for an encounter that featured backups from the outset. Both offenses ran extremely basic, stripped back offenses looking to give nothing away in terms of game planning and both defenses had the upper hand as a result.
Few of the players featuring will have big roles to play in the final game of Week 1 but they were still playing for roster spots on these two teams and around the league so here’s a few performances of note as these backups put it on the line for the final time in pre-season.
Arizona Cardinals – Performances of Note
Player: Glenn Carson, LB: +5.3
Breakdown: A strong finish to Carson’s debut pre-season was keyed by some good work in coverage which saw him targeted three times, surrendering only one reception for four yards along with three pass defenses. The last of those came underneath an out route targeted behind him that might have given him an interception to round out his final pre-season game.
Signature Stat: Tied with three other Cardinals to lead the team with four defensive stops.
Player: Jonathan Cooper, LG: +0.7
Breakdown: Injuries held last year’s first round pick out of the Cardinals’ second and third pre-season games, pressing him into action in the finale when the other starters sat. A sack surrendered to Chas Alecxih marked his second sack surrendered in as many games this pre-season but there was some solid work in the run game in place around that one play.
Signature Stat: His 22 snaps last night took his pre-season total to just 62, not the volume of playing time that the Cardinals would surely have hoped for him to have under his belt ahead of the regular season.
Player: Ed Stinson, DE: 0.0
Breakdown: His start tonight would suggest that Frostee Rucker will be the man to replace Darnell Dockett in the starting lineup next week but Stinson again showed that he can be a contributor in a rotation this season. As a pass rusher Stinson has offered little in pre-season but his work in run defense is strong and his three stops last night were his most this pre-season.
Signature Stat: Finishes the preseason as our third highest graded 3-4 defensive end in run defense (+4.0) earning a positive grade in each game.
San Diego Chargers – Performances of Note
Player: Marion Grice, RB:+0.6
Breakdown: That the Chargers have two backs who can run the ball like Grice and Branden Oliver carrying the rock in their final preseason game shoes their depth at the position. As a pair they combined to force twelve missed tackles on the ground with Grice in particular showing terrific consistency to maximize his gains on every single carry.
Signature Stat: Finishes the preseason with a 4.3 yards per carry average on 24 carries between the tackles.
Player: Jason Verrett, CB: +1.1
Breakdown: After a brief debut last week, Verrett put in another brief, if encouraging display against the Cardinals on Thursday night. In his eight snaps Verrett still found the time to cut off a deep route to set up a third down play on which he shoved Logan Thomas out of bounds short of the markers to bring up fourth down. It’s easy to be invisible when you only play eight snaps but the Chargers’ first round pick found his way to make a mark.
Signature Stat: Concludes the preseason having played only 15 snaps in two games with only the one target from Thursday night’s game.
Player: Cordarro Law, OLB: +2.8
Breakdown: A third straight game with a positive pass rush grade for San Diego’s most productive pass rusher this pre-season. Law chipped in with his third sack of the pre-season adding a hurry and a batted pass to his stat line for good measure. Law also added a pair of tackles as a special teamer to press home his ability to contribute in the third phase as well.
Signature Play: At 7:03 in the second quarter Law drove around the outside shoulder of Bradley Sowell getting to Logan Thomas just as he wound to throw, timing his arrival to force a fumble from the Cardinals’ signal caller.
PFF Game Ball
The nervous wait for the final cuts now begins but Cordarro Law can be proud of his pre-season work, rounding out with a strong showing as a pass rusher and a special teamer. His seven total pressures (3 Sk, 1 Ht, 3 Hu) and five special teams tackles led the Chargers in both categories.
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