Saints vs. Cardinals 2013: Scouting the Enemy

Jason Miller

In anticipation of the Saints' Week 3 matchup against the Cardinals this Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, I caught up with SB Nation's resident Cardinals expert, Jess Root, from Revenge of the Birds to get his inside perspective on the Saints' upcoming opponent.

Dave Cariello: Larry Fitzgerald and Rashard Mendenhall are both listed as questionable. What's your opinion on whether they'll play or not?

Jess Root: The way that things look, I expect both to play. Had you asked me earlier in the week, I would have said yes to Fitz but no to Mendy. Just the other day, when asked about the school of thought that would say Fitz should sit out to rest his hammy, he said, "I've never been to that school." How effective will he be? If he feels better than last week, he will be okay. He was nowhere near 100 percent. After resting all week until Friday, he should be ready to help out.

***

Dave: How has Carson Palmer been working out for you guys?

Jess: Palmer has been great. He is so much of an upgrade at the position it is wonderful. While the offense has not been perfect, it has been much better than last season. They have only had two three and outs, one of the lowest totals in the league. They are not yet clicking in the red zone, but that will come. He loves the offense, he is challenged by it and we know we will get production. We also know that we will get the "what the heck" throws from time to time -- that has been Palmer his whole career -- but the fact that he is a player we know will produce offensively is just amazing after the past three seasons, even if many consider him average at best.

***

Dave: What's the best way for the Saints offense to find success against the Cardinals defense?

Jess: In two games, there has been only one thing that has been successful -- throw the ball to a tight end that is a matchup problem. Luckily for New Orleans, they have Jimmy Graham. He will be a nightmare for the Cards, as he is for all teams. So far, teams are not running ball well and, other than Jared Cook and one play from Calvin Johnson, passes down the field are not terribly successful. The Cardinals defense has been good about limiting teams to short passes -- you'll have to dink and dunk.

***

Dave: You guys really like LSU players, huh? How are they doing?

Jess: Patrick Peterson is a star and found his gear in the Hall of Fame this week, as he became the first defensive player since 1970 to both complete a pass and have a reception in the same game. You will see him on defense, on punt returns and on offense for a few plays. Tyrann Mathieu is amazing as a rookie this year. Kevin minter has not seen the field defensively, but boy can he hit people.

***

Dave: Tell me about a Cardinals player that Saints fans probably don't know about but might have an impact on the game this Sunday.

Jess: Tight end Rob Housler is our version of Jimmy Graham and he should be returning to action after missing the first two games with a high ankle sprain. He is tall and fast and is a matchup nightmare. Another player is rookie Andre Ellington. He made two of the biggest plays against Detroit. He is great in space, but not too small. He can run inside and more. But he is still being worked into the offense, so he will pop up in some sets -- two back sets with Rashard Mendenhall in particular.

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