Hall of Fame Game 2012: Start Time, TV Info and Saints vs. Cardinals Preview
If you’re having football withdrawals, the 2012 Hall of Fame Game is sure to provide you with great relief.
The NFL preseason kicks off tonight with its annual exhibition contest honoring the year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class. Willie Roaf, Curtis Martin, Cortez Kennedy, Chris Doleman, Dermontti Dawson and Jack Butler make up the class and were enshrined on Saturday night.
In 2011, the league was forced to cancel the Hall of Fame Game due to its extensive lockout that ran late in to the summer.
Here’s a preview of the contest.
Will NOLA cover the spread?
Where: Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio
When: Sunday, August 5 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network or online at NFL Preseason Live
Listen: NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line: Saints by 3, according to Bovada
What’s At Stake
OK, maybe not lives, but whether or not players will get an NFL paycheck or one from their local grocery store this fall (shout-out to Kurt Warner) rides on this and the remaining games in the preseason.
Established veterans may be thinking, “Don’t put me in coach,” because the exhibition means absolutely nothing to them. But if you want to witness intensity that you won’t even find in the regular season, pay attention to the undrafted free agents on special teams doing everything in their power to get noticed. For them, their football careers are on the line every single snap.
Saints Injury Report
According to the USA Today, cornerback Jabari Greer is listed on the Saints’ injury report as questionable. He’s still recovering from sports hernia surgery, so there’s no way he’ll suit up for this one. The “questionable” status is more geared toward Week 1 than his ability to play on Sunday night.
Cardinals Injury Report
According to ESPN, Arizona will be thin at the running back position, as Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams will be on the sideline in street clothes. Wells is out after undergoing knee surgery this offseason.
Williams is questionable, also with a knee, but he doesn’t want to risk anything. And with something as serious as a knee injury—in a meaningless game for him—that’s a smart call.
What They’re Saying
Saints beat writer Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that interim coach Joe Vitt talked about what the staff will be scanning for in terms of player performance. He said:
"Can (a player) finish every play? [...] Can he finish every series? Can he finish every down, quarter, and half? Then this, does the player know what to do? Does he know how to do it? Does he know what to do? Does he know how to get them? Those things are the things that we are looking at."
ESPN’s NFC West blogger Mike Sando listed that the three most important things to pay attention to in the Hall of Fame Game for the Cardinals are Kevin Kolb, how the right side of their offensive line protects Kolb and the position battle on the other side of the football at cornerback.
Sando said that while Patrick Peterson has one starting spot locked up, opposite him, as well as the nickelback position, are open races. He named William Gay, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson and Jamell Fleming as potential starters, while Michael Adams will compete for the nickel spot.
Saints Player to Watch: Curtis Lofton
With no early draft picks to key in on, new addition Curtis Lofton is by far the most interesting player to watch for the Saints on Sunday night. Not only is he perhaps their most notable offseason acquisition, but he’ll also be replacing suspended inside linebacker Jonathan Vilma in the starting lineup.
New Orleans knows what it's getting with the talented Lofton, so he likely won’t stay in the game too long. But it’ll be interesting to see the instant impact he makes on the Saints’ occasionally shaky defense.
Cardinals Player to Watch: Michael Floyd
For the first time since Anquan Boldin’s departure, Larry Fitzgerald actually has a respectable starting wide receiver across from him. Or, at least a receiver that has the potential to be one.
If Floyd blows up as a rookie, Arizona could be dangerous this season. Of course, the team needs the player under center to step his game up too—whether that’s Kolb or John Skelton—but Floyd could single-handedly take the Cards offense to another level by not only producing for himself, but also freeing up Fitzgerald as well.
Key Matchup: Ben Grubbs vs. Daryl Washington
Grubbs is another new addition to the Saints this year. Grubbs spurned the Baltimore Ravens to sign in New Orleans to replace Carl Nicks, who left in free agency for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Nicks was part of a strong Saints offensive line for years, so we’ll see if the talented Grubbs is an upgrade, downgrade or just a solid replacement at the position this season.
Twenty-five-year-old inside linebacker Daryl Washington blew up last season to lead the Cardinals in tackles and finish third in sacks. His ability to improve even further in 2012 could determine whether or not the Cards defense takes another step forward as well.
On the Hot Seat: Ken Whisenhunt
After winning the NFC West in back-to-back seasons, Arizona has missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
Whisenhunt isn’t guaranteed to get fired if the Cardinals fail to do so again. After all, he was a couple plays away from winning the Super Bowl a few years ago. But if they take a significant step back from their 8-8 record last season, his hot seat will be scorching.
In preseason games, I tend to lean toward the team with the better backup quarterback. In this matchup, while Drew Brees is on another level than Kolb, John Skelton is a superior signal-caller to Chase Daniel. Not that it matters, but expect the Cardinals to finish with the highest score in the first action of the year.
Cardinals by 6
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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