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Familiar problems appear, but hope remains for Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) makes a catch as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr defends during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Much of what happened Saturday in Glendale was all too familiar for the Arizona Cardinals.

The defense produced six turnovers. The offense produced 12 points.

The unfamiliar part of the team's 12-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys? Coming up on the right side of the scoreboard, even with the offense's struggles.

Four times in the regular season last year the Cardinals failed to reach the end zone, and all four times they left with a loss.

"We have to learn to score touchdowns, but it's something nice to improve upon," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said after his team improved to 2-0 in the preseason. "A win is a win; we feel very good about winning.

"And we have a ways to go before the season."

Indeed, the Cardinals still have two games -- and three weeks -- before the games will start to count, meaning there is still time to iron out the wrinkles.

And unlike last season, the offense's issues don't appear to be the kind that will haunt this team when the games matter.

Carson Palmer, the new starting quarterback, completed just 7-of-15 passes for 66 yards. He missed on some throws and had some miscommunication issues with some receivers, but once again showed enough to make one confident the Cardinals will be fine at the position.

Rashard Mendenhall, the new running back, tallied 32 yards on seven carries, while the team's four running backs as a whole ran for 93 yards on 28 carries, which averages out to 3.32 yards per tote.

While none of those numbers are eye-popping, they were good enough to earn a win, in no small part to six Cowboys turnovers. But really, few are concerned with how the defense plays, as this camp is all about the team's ability to score points, not prevent them.

"There are a couple of things that we are really going to have to look at and discuss, find a way to make it better and move on and keep improving," Palmer said. "We still have two more opportunities before we get things rolling, so it's a good thing we have those two chances."

Added receiver Larry Fitzgerald, "We want to be able to have a point for every minute we have time of possession, and basically we fell way short of that goal today."

The Cardinals had the ball for just less than 34 minutes, so yeah, they fell a bit short.

However, Fitzgerald -- like Arians -- noted that no win is a bad win, preseason or not. And for what it's worth, last year's Cardinals were victorious in just one of five preseason games. If those losses were harbingers of what was to come, why can't these wins be?

After all, according to the coach, his team is in a good spot right now on defense and special teams, meaning the offense is what needs to be figured out. An offensive-minded coach, Arians doesn't seem to be terribly concerned.

"Offensively, we're a work in progress," he said. "I think we're getting better each week; we just have to eliminate mental errors and get everybody on the same page when teams blitz us or when we're in the red zone."

At this point in time, those seem like minor, correctable problems, and doing so will go a long way toward erasing the memory of last season's offensive offense.

About the Author


School: University of Arizona

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: Fall 2008, right before Cardinals Super Bowl run

Favorite sports memory: Being at Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with my dad

Favorite all-time athlete: Larry Centers

Favorite sports movies: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Jerry Maguire

Most crushing sports moment: Grew up in Arizona and went to UA from 2002-06. In short, there are too many to name just one.

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