It’s been a while since the Los Angeles Rams faced the Arizona Cardinals. As the NFL season winds down, a lot has changed for both teams since their matchup in Week 2 of the almost completed season.
Gone is QB Sam Bradford as the Cardinals try to see what their young rookie quarterback, Josh Rosen, can do as the organization goes with baptism by fire. Instead of featuring veteran Larry Fitzgerald, now second round pick Christian Kirk continues to get a lot of emphasis in the gameplan.
Here are five Cardinals that will try to keep the struggling Rams from busting out of their slump.
QB Josh Rosen
Rosen has been a typical rookie quarterback. Learning the chops of the NFL, Rosen has struggled to put up gaudy numbers while also turning the ball over quite a bit. For the season Rosen has completed 187/336 (55.7%) for 2,042 yards, 10 TDs, and 14 INTs. In addition, Rosen has eight fumbles for the season while coming into the contest with a 27.4 QBR. Quietly, the Rams defense has been better so look for them to continue the positive trend.
S Antoine Bethea
A rare seasoned veteran for a rebuilding team (34 years old), Bethea is leading the Cardinals in tackles with 110 for the season. In addition, he’s earned two sacks and boasts a 70.4 grade on PFF. The Rams passing game has been sidetracked and is likely going to not have the easiest time getting back on track against veterans like Bethea and Patrick Peterson.
WR Christian Kirk
The rookie from Texas A&M continues to see a larger workload as he and Rosen try to develop a hopeful long-lasting connection. Although Larry Fitzgerald continues to lead the team, Kirk has quietly put together a solid rookie season so far in 12 games with 43 receptions for 590 yards and three touchdowns. Look for CBs Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters to try and contain the young rookie.
S Budda Baker
Speaking of young players, Baker is last year’s second round pick. A starting strong safety who also slides down the nickelback/slot-corner role on passing downs, Baker is second on the team with tackles (87). Baker also has two sacks and a forced fumble and is considered an above average corner according to PFF. Look for Baker to be all over the field against the Rams on Sunday.
RB David Johnson
Last but certainly not least, is RB David Johnson. After coming back from a serious injury that required Johnson to miss essentially the whole season last year, Johnson hasn’t been his dominant self (although not having much of an offensive line and quarterback don’t help). For the season, Johnson has 843 rushing yards and seven touchdowns while also catching 46 passes for 408 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson is similar to Gurley in terms of usage as the goal is to feed him as much as possible.