It's time for the regular season to begin. The St. Louis Rams host the Arizona Cardinals in a divisional matchup to kickoff the season.
The Rams have a lot of players that will be interesting to watch this Sunday, a host of new players that will either start or get plenty of playing time. They have returning players that will have more expectations placed on them this season because their roles have increased.
The players listed are not only players to watch; they will be key to determining who wins or loses this game.
Tavon Austin: The top player to watch this week has to be the Rams rookie first-round receiver. Expectations are higher on Austin because he was the most electifying man in college football last season. The Rams have been hiding how they will use Austin, while adding fuel on the fires of anticipation by saying that they don't want to spoil the surprise. He teased his potential a couple of times during preseason, and now it's time see what the Rams' playmaker can do.
Jared Cook: Cook is another chess piece that the Rams added this year. The former Tennessee Titan was used several different ways during the preseason and that should continue to be the case. I'm excited to see Cook play; he should be able to attack the seam and attack the ball in the redzone. He should be a mismatch against the Cardinals and other teams this season.
Chris Givens: Givens contiuned where he lefted off last year. During the preseason Givens looked improved in the intermidiate game, while he and Sam Bradford contiuned their deep route chemistry. This game will be a good test for Givens, he should be one-on-one with corner back with Patrick Peterson on a number of snaps. If Givens has a good game, that will be a good sign going forward.
Rodney McLeod: McLeod won the starting spot from Darian Stewart while Stewart was hurt. It wasn't the ideal dethroning, but it was necessary because McLeod played better than Stewart. The question now becomes how will he perform starting his first regular season game at safety. Obviously he and T.J. Mcdonald will be tested in this game Carson Palmer. McLeod needs a good game so that he won't have to worry about Stewart breathing over his shoulder.
Daryl Richardson: Richardson ran away with the starting job and hasn't looked back. There's a great chance that he will start throughout the season. However, the Cardinals will be the first defense he will face as a starter. How much of a load will Richardson get this game? Has he improved as a pass blocker? Will he have a big game? These are the questions that will be facing Richardson this week. If he has a solid game, there won't be anything to worry about. If he doesn't, the Rams might really use a committee approach when Isaiah Pead comes back.
Carson Palmer: Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery, and the Cardinals are hoping that that's the case with Palmer. With the Oakland Raiders he threw for big yardage, but that was mostly in garbage time. If you asked most people, Palmer wouldn't be on many top 15 quarterback lists, but he is a big improvement over the quarterbacks they had last season. Also, he should be able to feed Larry Fitzgerald.
Larry Fitzgerald: If there's one player that will benefit from the Cardinals adding Palmer it's Fitzgerald. He had a down year last season. The main reason for that is because he can't throw the ball to himself, although they probably toyed with that idea too last season. It sounds like Fitzgerald will be a move receiver this season, which basically means that he will see time at the different receiver spots to get the best matchups.
Tyrann Mathieu: Mathieu's problems have been covered time and time again. He just couldn't put down the weed, which caused him to leave LSU and fall into the third round of the draft. Like Austin, Mathieu is undersized, standing slightly under 5'9, but he should also be a playmaker in the league. There's a good chance that he will be responsible for covering Austin this Sunday in what should be a good matchup between these two rookie players.
Did I miss a player that should have been included? Or do you think the players listed will have a good game? Let us know.