Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 9/8/12

The 2012 NFL season kicks off for the Arizona Cardinals tomorrow afternoon in Glendale against the Seattle Seahawks. The Cardinals lead the overall series, 14-12. How ready are the Red Birds? Let's take a look at some concerns for head coach Ken Whisenhunt's squad as they prepare to meet their NFC West rival:

Is Beanie Wells hurt already?

The oft-injured halfback missed two games last season but still authored a solid season – 1,047 rushing yards (4.3 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns. Very good if not great production. His best season in his young career. He missed three games the previous campaign though and is already dealing with a hamstring injury that limited him in practice on Friday.

The Ohio State product is expected to play but don't be surprised to see more of Ryan Williams against the Seahawks' tough run defense. LaRod Stephens-Howling will pitch in as well. Wells needs to stay healthy and productive to help take some pressure off quarterback John Skelton. Which leads to my next question……

Is John Skelton finally the answer at Quarterback?

Skelton won the quarterback duel this summer against the disappointing Kevin Kolb. Not exactly Joe Montana against Steve Young. The Fordham University product has a strong arm but needs to improve his accuracy – he completed just 55 percent of his pass attempts last season, which is way too low these days in the pass happy NFL. Skelton is 7-4 overall as a starter but he also has thrown more interceptions (16) than TD passes (13) in his young career.

Skelton's presence under center is good news for all-pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald averaged 2.5 more targets and scored six more touchdowns with Skelton at QB than with Kolb as the starting signal-caller in 2011.

Look for Fitzgerald to have another fine outing against Seattle – in his stellar career he has recorded more receptions (102) and receiving yards (1,371) against the Seahawks than against any other opponent.

Can the offensive line hold up?

The Red Birds are going to have three new starters along the offensive line Sunday – left tackle D'Anthony Batiste, right tackle Bobbie Massie and right guard Adam Snyder. It will be Batiste's first start at tackle and his first start at any position in the NFL since 2007. Yikes.

Massie, a fourth-round pick, is a rookie and Snyder is currently nursing a left elbow injury. It will be very interesting to see how well they provide running lanes for Wells and company and how much time they provide Skelton to throw. Will Skelton be running for his life on Sunday? We'll see.

Can the defense continue to improve?

Arizona's defense really improved the second half of last season and even better things are expected this time around. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton is a master of bringing pressure from different areas in his aggressive 3-4 scheme. Even though he is a rookie, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is dangerous. Although just 5-10, Wilson has a strong arm and can run well and can elude pressure in the pocket. Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch is questionable for the game with back spasms – Wilson needs him in there to keep the Cardinals' defense honest and to help set up play action.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson is coming off a sensational rookie season in which he returned four punts for touchdowns. He also steadily improved as a cornerback as the year progressed and should be matched up against Sidney Rice, Seattle's top WR, on Sunday.

"I've been working more on my coverage skills and trying to be more of a shutdown corner versus an elite punt returner," Peterson told Yahoo Sports. 

Peterson is one of the key cogs in Arizona's underrated defense, along with left inside linebacker Daryl Washington. Washington, who just inked a six-year contract extension last Thursday, paced the Cards with 111 tackles and added five sacks last season. Sixteen of Washington's tackles were for loss, the most by any Cardinals player since Clyde Simmons' 17 in 1995. Washington's speed and athleticism are key components in making Horton's defense work smoothly. Look for Arizona's defensive unit to take a step up this season. It will be up to the offense to try and keep pace.

 

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Who should perform at Super Bowl 51?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

U.S. Soccer hands Solo six month suspension for Olympic comments

Report: Josh Gordon will be restricted free agent after 2016

Chargers release statement on Joey Bosa situation

Yoenis Cespedes says he will not opt out of Mets contract

Zach Johnson unloads on Olympic golf

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Drew Brees says players do not trust league office, Goodell

Lawsuit over Hall of Fame Game refiled after McAfee comments

Report: Griffin plans to re-sign with Clippers, won't be traded

Report: Wentz unlikely to see any playing time this season

Minnesota Wild names Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ official goal song

Gabby Douglas joining judges for Miss America pageant

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron's 'Cleveland Hustles'

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

24 quintessential moments of Kobe Bryant's career

Revisiting the 10 biggest mistakes of the NFL offseason

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

Washington's Josh Norman speaks candidly about multiple NFL talking points

Derrick Rose: Knicks have chance to win every game

Ranking the MLB divisional races

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron James' 'Cleveland Hustles'

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

24 quintessential moments of Kobe Bryant's career

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

QUIZ: Name every player to win a championship with Kobe Bryant

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker