The Cardinals-Bears preseason game Friday night presented Arizona fans with a chance to see what is — Jeff Blake — and what could have been — Kordell Stewart — at quarterback.
The Cards actually pursued Stewart as a free agent before Blake, and when Blake visited Tempe, he knew he was going to have to wait for Stewart to make a decision.
“Those are the cards I have been dealt with my whole life,” Blake said at the time.
But Stewart clearly didn’t have much interest in coming to Arizona, something the Cardinals’ front office noticed. When Stewart went to visit Chicago — and Stewart’s camp didn’t make much of an effort to negotiate with the Cards — Arizona jumped on Blake.
“It came down to the common denominator, which is winning,” Stewart said. “I’m not saying Arizona did not have a good football team, but Chicago was the right situation for me. . . Both cars were nice. It’s just under the hood I saw a few extra cylinders.”
The Cardinals have been thrilled with Blake off the field, and he mostly outplayed Stewart on Friday night. Stewart ended up 13-for-18 for 139 yards, although 71 of the yards came during a two-minute drill right before halftime. Blake was 12-for-22 for 104 yards before leaving early in the third quarter.
Emmitt Smith got in two series Friday night, the most he will get in the preseason. He had 11 yards on three carries, dropped a pass and slipped on a screen pass, losing 6 yards. But he scored the team’s first touchdown and was happy to get in what was probably his last work of the exhibition season.
“It’s all good to get out there and get a couple of touches,” Smith said. “We made good plays when we needed to and mixed things up well.”
WADE-ING INTO THE NFL
Former Desert Vista High School standout Bobby Wade, a fifth-round pick of the Bears, is a virtual lock to make the team. He is expected to be the team’s punt returner, and is in a battle for the fourth and fifth receiver spot with rookie Justin Gage and Ahmad Merritt. Wade returned two punts for 22 yards against Arizona but muffed a return. He also had a 14-yard catch.
The Cards lost a pair of players to knee injuries during the game. Cornerback Duane Starks left with a sprained left knee late in the first quarter. Defensive tackle Marcus Bell left in the second quarter with a right knee sprain. X-rays for both were negative, but both are expected to get MRIs and coach Dave McGinnis is concerned that they'll miss playing time.
Tackle L.J. Shelton (ankle) did not play. Rookie Reggie Wells started in his place and had a solid start.
The kickoff temperature was only 101 degrees, after going 110 degrees on Aug. 9.
Paid attendance was 22,968, the second-smallest preseason crowd in Arizona.