(Cooper gets carted off. Photo from Albany (NY) Times-Union)

The Arizona Cardinals of 2013 looked like the Arizona Cardinals of 2012 in a 24-7 loss to the San Diego Chargers in last night’s third preseason game.




The loss on the scoreboard pales in comparison to the losses on the field for Arizona. The Cardinals have lost as many as four starters with injuries suffered in the loss to San Diego.

First-round pick Jonathan Cooper left the game with a broken left leg and is out indefinitely, according to the Arizona Republic.

(LINK: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/cardinals/articles/20130824arizona-cardinals-top-draft-pick-jonathan-cooper-breaks-leg-preseason-loss-san-diego.html)

If Cooper winds up missing the season, it would be the third straight year Arizona has deal with a season-ending injury in the preseason.

Running back Ryan Williams suffered a ruptured patellar tendon against Green Bay in 2011 and missed his rookie season. Last year, offensive tackle Levi Brown had a torn triceps muscle against Denver and was shelved for the year.

If you believe bad things happen in threes then this might be the sign you didn’t want to see.

In addition, tight end Rob Housler limped off the field with a right ankle injury. Running back Rashard Mendenhall suffered a right knee injury in the early going. Wide receiver Andre Roberts suffered an injury to his quadriceps muscle. All three of them are scheduled to have MRIs on Sunday. Their availability for the preseason finale against Denver should be known Monday.

Yikes.

On the field, it wasn’t much better. The Cardinals turned the ball over twice and were penalized 11 times for 94 yards. The Arizona defense allowed San Diego to convert eight times on third down. Arizona quarterbacks were sacked four times for a total of 50 yards in losses.

Double yikes.

The good news was that Arizona was able to run the ball effectively. They gained 120 yards on 18 carries, an average of 6.7 yards per carry. But that was about the only thing that went well.

And we haven’t come to the Cardinals’ worst play of the night.

Late in the first half, San Diego running back Ryan Mathews was lunging for the goal line and the ball popped free. Arizona safety Rashad Johnson recovered the loose ball and started running down the field. Johnson made it a few yards and was caught by the foot by tight end Antonio Gates.

Instead of making the smart play and falling down, Johnson attempted a lateral to linebacker Sam Acho. Acho was totally unprepared for it and got popped by Gates. The ball flew up in the air and backup tight end John Phillips seized the ball and ran it three yards for a touchdown.

Arizona nose tackle Dan Williams suffered an ankle injury on the play so he can be added to the list of banged up Cardinals. Williams missed time earlier in camp with knee and ankle injuries.

The Cardinals were giving their fans eerie flashbacks to last year’s 5-11 disaster. Housler dropped a touchdown in the end zone. Kicker Dan Carpenter had a 26-yard field goal attempt blocked. He was released early Sunday by Arizona (link: http://www.revengeofthebirds.com/2013/8/25/4657522/nfl-roster-cuts-arizona-cardinals-reportedly-release-newly-signed-k) according to the Revenge of the Birds Blog.

Arizona takes on Denver in the preseason finale on Thursday night in Denver. If Arizona can put together a better effort against the Broncos, it would go a long way to ease the minds of Cardinals fans right before the season opener against St. Louis in two weeks.