This is not the first time the Arizona Cardinals will see San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith, but it is the first time LT Nate Potter will. In the Cardinals first meeting with the dangerous pass rusher, he recorded two sacks. Last week, Smith did not have DE Justin Smith to take the pressure off of him, and Seattle Seahawks LT Russell Okung kept him at bay for four quarters.
Potter is nowhere near the pass blocker Okung is, but J. Smith is doubtful for tomorrow’s game and his replacement, Ricky Jean Francois, is just not the same caliber player. Aldon is the Cardinals’ challenge of the week for the second time this year because he is chasing history and the Cardinals do not want to have anything to do with history in a bad way. Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt has a more realistic chance at breaking the record, but he is playing a better team.
How can the Cardinals neutralize Smith?
Easier said than done, but since RB Beanie Wells says he is trying out for 31 other teams they will look at his pass blocking skills in this one. If Wells keeps Smith in the back of his mind at all times and shadows the left side of the line, QB Brian Hoyer will have a chance to either step up in the pocket or run away and at least get back to the line of scrimmage. The key to the game for the Cardinals will be staying away from negative plays.
The good news for the Cardinals is RT Bobby Massie has improved greatly since he was dubbed the worst tackle in the league. He looks quicker and more committed to helping this team win, even though they really have not won any games since he has improved. That is not his fault though. The quarterbacks are terrible in Arizona and they are just hoping Hoyer can do something to kick start this offense and maybe even get some sort of rhythm going.
This is the last game of the year for the Cardinals. It is a time where they just cannot hold anything back. The 49ers have at least one more game ahead of them, so they have something to lose. The Cardinals have nothing; a team with nothing to lose can be dangerous.
Follow Kase Brammer on Twitter at @KBlive33