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Pre-game Interview: Revenge of the Birds

One of the great things about being part of SB Nation is the whole community of blogs thing we got goin' on here. In what should be a weekly event, I will ask questions of the upcoming Saints opponent's respective SB Nation blogger. Knowing what's going on in our enemies mind will give us a deeper understanding  of what we are about to witness and enhance our overall enjoyment of the game. All SB Nation bloggers are experts on their teams, so they will be able to tell us exactly what we need to know and what to be watching for. This week we have cgolden of Revenge of the Birds fame. Here is what he had to say about the Cardinals and the game tonight. Don't forget to check out Revenge of the Birds to read my answers to his questions and let me know if you think I got it right.

CSC: What are the important acquisitions the Cardinals have made this offseason?

ROTB: The biggest additions are on the defensive side of the ball where the Cardinals tried to upgrade the depth of the front seven. Travis Laboy should make a push for a starting job but he'll see his share of snaps regardless. I'd look for the Cards to utilize his skills in passing situations early and often. The other notable signings include veterans Clark Haggans, Bryan Robinson and Brian St. Pierre, all of which should see playing time during the preseason.

CSC: What are some of the key losses for the team? 

ROTB: The only notable losses were Calvin Pace, who broke the bank with the Jets, and Bryant Johnson, who signed with the Niners. Pace had a breakout season in 2007 after an injury to Chike Okeafor allowed Pace to start, but Okeafor is back now and frankly he's a better player. The Cardinals aren't quite sure who will replace Johnson as the #3 receiver but they've got two strong candidates in second year speedster, Steve Breaston and third round pick Early Doucet.

CSC: What are the key positional battles Cardinal fans will be watching during this game that Saints fans might want to check on?

ROTB: The obvious answer to this question would the QB 'battle,' but it's not really a battle. The job is Matt Leinart's to lose and it would be a shock to see him not starting on day one. The rest of the starting lineups are pretty much set although there could be a battle between Bertrand Berry and Travis LaBoy at outside linebacker, but regardless of who wins the starting job, both will get their fair share of snaps. The real battles are at the third wide receiver and backup running back.

CSC: Who were your draft picks and how are they looking?

ROTB: The Cardinals' spent four of their draft choices on the defensive side of the ball, including their first two selections, but the offensive rookies could end up making the biggest impact on this 2008 team. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (1st round) and defensive end Calais Campbell (2nd round) will both see plenty of snaps in the preseason but neither are being counted on or expected to make a significant impact during their rookie seasons. Third round pick, Early Doucet is battling for the third wide receiver spot and could post decent numbers if he gets regular playing time out of the slot. He's constantly compared to Anquan Boldin, which is an indication of how much the coaching staff likes the kid. Last but certainly not least, the most popular rookie this season has been fifth round pick, Tim Hightower. An unheralded running back from Richmond has been the talk of Arizona since he was drafted. The coaching staff compared him to Marion Barber on draft day and the high praises haven't stopped since. He's been running with the second string and could finally be a legitimate backup for Edge.

CSC: Which player are Cardinal fans most excited about this season? 

ROTB: That's a pretty tough question and frankly, I'm not sure that I can narrow it down to one guy. I will say though that the new depth on defense is starting to create a buzz. The defense really feel off the table last year when several starters finished the season on injured reserve, but everyone is healthy and there seems to be quality depth at every position. Optimism is always rampant during training camp and preseason but talk of a top 10 defense is pretty rare in Arizona.

CSC: How much do you expect the starters to play this game?

ROTB: I'd be surprised to see many starters play more than two series, especially considering that most of the starting positions are set. Most of the starters are established veterans and after losing a couple of guys in the preseason last year, I'd bet that the coaching staff is pretty conservative with their playing time.

CSC: What are fan expectations of the team this year?

ROTB: The team and fans alike seem to have one goal, playoffs. Anything short of a post season game would look like a failure. That's a tall order for a team that hasn't had a winning season since 1998, but that's the nature of the beast.

CSC: Is there any talk among Cardinal fans about how well they think the Saints will do? 

ROTB: To be honest the Saints have been 'off the radar' for most Cardinal fans mainly because they aren't on the regular season schedule. I actually think (and this is purely my opinion so take it with a grain of salt) the Saints and Cardinals are pretty similar teams heading into 2008. Both should sport dynamic offenses led by the passing game and both bolstered their porous defenses through the draft and free agency. In the end both teams will score plenty of points but will only go as far as the defense will take them.

CSC: Who won't be playing tonight?

ROTB: As of now, the only starter who is being ruled out is Boldin. Early Doucet isn't going to play either.

CSC: Wanna make a prediction on the outcome of the game?

ROTB: I'm pretty torn on the outcome of the game, mainly because no one really knows how the Cardinals third string compares to the Saints' third string. If I've got to put something on paper though, I'd say that for the Cardinals to prevail they'll have to jump out to an early lead and rely on the defense to hold on in the second half. The offensive line has already lost two guys to injuries and there wasn't much depth to begin with.

Isn't this exciting? Are you guys just staring at your clock waiting until kickoff? The next post will be our open thread. So when you sit back and watch the game at 7pm Central, be sure to be by your computer and signed on here to chat with me and everyone else about the game. Live! This will be my first open thread on CSC so help make it a good one. It will be cool. I promise. Who knows, maybe Stujo4, asaint and Beamer will go at it?! (I'm kidding. It's over.)