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Patriots-Cardinals story lines: Cardinals d-line, Welker, and the o-line

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  September 16, 2012 11:18 AM

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FOXBOROUGH -- A look at some of today's story lines against the Arizona Cardinals.

How will Arizona's impressive defensive line affect the Patriots' running game? -- Between Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett, the strength of the Cardinals' defense is up front. With great safety help in Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes, as well as cornerback Patrick Peterson, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots utilize Stevan Ridley in Week 2 and whether or not he'll see the same holes he did in Week 1.

How many targets will Wes Welker get? -- You're going to get tired of hearing this. But, forgetting what you're being told or what's being written, it bears noting how many actual targets Wes Welker receives. Last week he received five total, catching three passes for 14 yards. It was a timid opening for the veteran receiver who caught 122 passes last season and a drastic difference from the 2011 opener in which he was targeted 12 times and caught eight passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Let's see the actual targets before we start looking at Welker's role as if it's diminishing or changing.

How will the offensive line look? -- After Dan Connolly's head injury against the Titans (reportedly passed all of his concussion tests the same day), and with Sebastian Vollmer still working his way back, keep an eye on this unit given their health. Also, Nate Solder gave up a huge sack on Tom Brady against the Titans. And while Brady was hurried only eight times, he benefited greatly from a strong running game and getting the ball out quickly. So while Week 1 was seen as a great success for the line that was the talk of the offseason, keep an eye on their performance for Week 2 and what side of the line actually struggles.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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