The Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals on Sunday meet for the first time since 2008 but for the 120th time in the history of the two franchises.
The last time they faced each other, Washington topped Arizona, 24-17, at FedEx Field. But some of they key figures involved have changed. Jim Zorn was the Redskins’ coach back then, and Jason Campbell and Kurt Warner were the quarterbacks. Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis were the featured backs for Arizona and Washington, respectively. Last time around, Tim Hightower was a backup running back for the Cardinals, but now he is Washington’s featured back.
The Cardinals are coming off of a 28-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers. In that game, Kevin Kolb threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns in his first game as Arizona’s quarterback. Rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson returned a punt 89 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Arizona’s secondary struggled on the day, giving up 422 passing yards and two passing touchdowns to Cam Newton.
The Cardinals are nursing some injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Starting inside linebacker Daryl Washington missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday with a calf injury. Outside linebacker Joey Porter missed Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury and was limited in Thursday’s practice.
Here are some key matchups for Sunday’s game:
WAS CB Deangelo Hall vs. ARI WR Larry Fitzgerald
Hall and Fitzgerald have played against each other since their college days and train together off and on throughout their offseasons, so they have great familiarity with each other. Hall said he’s looking forward to the challenge of covering Fitzgerald, whom he calls one of the best in the game. At 6 feet 3, 218-pounds, Fitzgerald has a significant size advantage on the 5-10, 195-pound Hall, but Hall is up for the challenge, although he knows he will receive help from teammates. The Cardinals like to move around Fitzgerald, so Josh Wilson likely will match up with him at times as well.
WAS LT Trent Williams vs. ARI OLB Joey Porter, DE Calais Campbell
If Porter can go on Sunday, Williams will find himself matched up against a veteran pass rusher who isn’t as dominant as he once was, but still is capable of causing some problems in this blitz-happy Cardinals defense. Other times, Williams could match up with Campbell, a fifth-year defensive end who recorded seven sacks last season. Although Campbell isn’t not a big name like Porter or Darnell Dockett on the other side, he too is a strong pass rusher with good strength and quickness. If Williams and his fellow lineman can’t pick up the blitz, Rex Grossman will have a rough outing.
WAS NT Barry Cofield vs. ARI C Lyle Sendlein
The anchor of Washington’s defensive front, Cofield was the only starting lineman not to record a sack in last week’s win over the Giants, but he still had an impact and created opportunities for teammates. Cofield likes to get after the quarterback and likely is eager to get a sack of his own if the opportunity presents itself. If not, he’ll aim to manhandle Sendlein, and collapse the pocket and create blitzing lanes for Washington’s linebackers.
WAS WR Santana Moss vs. ARI CB Patrick Peterson
Peterson endured a long day last week while being charged with covering a veteran wide receiver in Steve Smith and was burned for eight catches, 178 yards and two touchdowns. Moss had six catches for 76 yards against the Giants, and appears likely to have a big day against the Cardinals. Jabar Gaffney and Anthony Armstrong also are eager build on strong performances last week.