Cardinals coach Dennis Green loves the idea of Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Bryant Johnson as the three receivers in his offensive sets — when they finally get healthy.
Karl Williams, because he can return punts, is already assured of a roster spot.
Beyond that, "there is competition for that fifth and sixth receiver," Green said last week.
But Saturday night’s 17-16 loss to the Raiders might have helped sort it out a little bit, at least with one spot.
Kevin Kasper, starting for Fitzgerald, had four catches for 52 yards, including an acrobatic 21-yard reception to set up the Cards’ first score. He also had one drop, but it was by far the best performance by a receiver the Cards have had this preseason.
But Nate Poole came in a close second. Poole caught Arizona’s first completed bomb of the preseason, a beautiful 56-yard toss from quarterback Josh McCown and had a touchdown catch taken away on an Oakland challenge.
Tight end Freddie Jones also had a good game, with six catches for 56 yards, although he was visibly upset with McCown on a couple of occasions when McCown did not throw him the ball.
Defensive end Bertrand Berry got his first sack as a Cardinal on a second effort against Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon in the first half. End Kyle Vanden Bosch also posted another sack, belting Gannon on a third down to stop a potential scoring drive.
"We’re just trying to get those . . . guys in that position healthy, and if Kyle can stay healthy by the time we get to the St. Louis game (to start the regular season), I think we’ll be fully recovered," Green said.
As expected, a Saturday night crowd with Raiders fans turned nasty. Multiple fights could be seen in the stands — one big brawl early left one man bloody and another leaving on a backboard, his head and neck immobilized — and there were at least 12 arrests and at least 30 ejections.
"It’s a war zone," said one DPS officer who declined to give his name.
There were 35,070 tickets distributed for the game, and the majority of fans who showed were wearing the Raiders’ silver and black.
Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete was wearing a walking boot after the game after suffering what looked like a serious left ankle sprain.
Cornerback Duane Starks (groin) and linebacker Karlos Dansby (hamstring) both sat out. Also sitting were receiver Larry Fitzgerald (ankle), running back Marcel Shipp (leg/ankle), safety Dexter Jackson (back), fullback James Hodgins (shoulder), tackle L.J. Shelton (back), receiver Anquan Boldin (knee), receiver Bryant Johnson (foot), defensive tackle Kenny King (wrist) and defensive end Fred Wakefield (foot).