BUC­CA­NEERS AT CAR­DI­NALS SCOUT­ING RE­PORT

The Arizona Republic - - Azcentral Sports - KENT SOMERS

Car­di­nals in­sider Kent Somers breaks down Sun­day's matchup with the Buc­ca­neers.

Car­di­nals on of­fense

Adrian Peter­son makes his de­but with the Car­di­nals - 10 years af­ter the Car­di­nals should have drafted him. Will he fare bet­ter than Ker­wynn Wil­liams and Chris John­son did in try­ing to re­place the in­jured David John­son? Peter­son is 32, and the Saints clearly thought Peter­son had lost a step or two be­cause he was their third run­ning back. The Car­di­nals' of­fen­sive line has been ter­ri­ble this sea­son, and the tight ends also have not blocked well. Peter­son could help a bit, even at an ad­vanced age. At 220 pounds, he’s big­ger than Wil­liams and Chris John­son. He also has a more pow­er­ful run­ning style, which is what the Car­di­nals need now. There is no time or space for danc­ing. If Peter­son has a bunch of 2-yard runs, well, that’s bet­ter than gain­ing none or los­ing yardage. Of 89 car­ries by run­ning backs this sea­son, 19 failed to gain a yard. That’s 21 per­cent. It won’t be easy get­ting the run­ning back on track against the Buc­ca­neers. They rank eighth against the run, and the Car­di­nals' in­te­rior line doesn’t match up well de­fen­sive against de­fen­sive tack­les Ger­ald McCoy and Chris Baker. The Bucs also might get lineback­ers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexan­der back from in­juries.

Edge: Buc­ca­neers.

Car­di­nals on de­fense

Last week was the first time this sea­son the Car­di­nals looked like a de­fense that had lost five starters in free agency. The Ea­gles con­verted third downs at will. They ran the ball ef­fi­ciently and threw over the heads of the sec­ondary of­ten. The re­sult was a 34-7 loss that was ev­ery bit as em­bar­rass­ing as the score in­di­cated. The Car­di­nals have given up 10 pass­ing touch­downs af­ter al­low­ing just 16 a year ago. A year ago, the Car­di­nals beat the Bucs 40-7, scor­ing 24 points in the sec­ond quar­ter. Bucs quar­ter­back Jameis Win­ston had four passes in­ter­cepted and lost a fum­ble. The Car­di­nals have forced only four turnovers this sea­son and rarely helped the of­fense with field po­si­tion. Corner­back Pa­trick Peter­son likely will de­fend re­ceiver Mike Evans for most of the game, which leaves corner­back Justin Bethel and others to de­fend DeSean Jack­son. Win­ston has played de­cent this year, but he hasn’t yet grown out of mak­ing youth­ful mis­takes. The Car­di­nals have done a de­cent job against the run, but they will miss de­fen­sive tackle Corey Peters if he can’t play be­cause of a sprained knee suf­fered in Philadel­phia. Run­ning back Doug Martin gained 74 yards on 13 car­ries in a loss to the Pa­tri­ots, his first game back from sus­pen­sion.

Edge: Car­di­nals.

Spe­cial teams

The Car­di­nals and Bucs both have big is­sues on spe­cial teams. For the Bucs, it’s at kicker. Nick Folk missed five of 11 field-goal at­tempts and was shown the door. They brought in Pa­trick Mur­ray, who told re­porters this week that he has worked with a medium to deal with the men­tal de­mands of the job. If it helps him, the Car­di­nals might want to add a medium to their staff. Phil Daw­son has missed four field-goal tries, although one was blocked due to a slow snap. Justin Drescher is the new long snap­per, re­plac­ing Aaron Brewer, who suf­fered a bro­ken wrist while try­ing to make a tackle last week. The Car­di­nals are hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time cov­er­ing punts. Op­po­nents are av­er­ag­ing nearly 15 yards a re­turn. In con­trast, the Car­di­nals are get­ting lit­tle pro­duc­tion out of their re­turn teams.

Edge: Buc­ca­neers.

Bot­tom line

The Car­di­nals should be mo­ti­vated by their em­bar­rass­ing show­ing last week in Philadel­phia. They are 0-3 against NFC op­po­nents out­side their di­vi­sion and can’t af­ford another loss Sun­day. I’m guess­ing that play­ing at home gives the Car­di­nals the edge. Pre­dic­tion: Car­di­nals 23, Buc­ca­neers 20.

CH­ERYL EVANS/AZCENTRAL SPORTS

Car­di­nals spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor, Amos Jones, coaches dur­ing prac­tice at the team’s train­ing fa­cil­ity on Thurs­day.

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