Welcome to the second installment of For What It’s Worth, where I make guesstimates over who will be starting come the opener Sept. 8 in St. Louis – this time, on the offensive side of the ball – and my only fear is someone will dredge this up in a little less than three months to tell me I don’t know what I am talking about. The Cards’ offense is in somewhat of a weird situation. The unit struggled so much last season that the bar has been set pretty low in order to improve. Yet with Carson Palmer coming in at quarterback and Bruce Arians taking over as coach (not to mention Tom Moore as a top offensive assistant) expectations seem pretty high.
That said, and with time off calling me, here is my lineup for that day in the Edward Jones Dome. We’re going with a two-WR, two-TE set, but there will be plenty of three-WR looks I’d guess:
QB – Carson Palmer. Arians named him starter from jump. Made sense. Had some bumpy times in the offseason work, but he’s been very straight-forward about the process and didn’t seem surprised. You have to like the idea he and Fitz are spearheading workouts in San Diego and/or Minnesota before camp. The offense probably needs it.
WR – Larry Fitzgerald. I think I am willing to wager Fitz gets back to his lofty stats this season. Just a guess.
WR – Michael Floyd. In three-receiver sets Andre Roberts will get plenty of work. But Floyd has impressed coaches (and bystanders like myself) with his efforts this offseason. He seems primed for a leap in Year Two. Can he challenge Fitz? If the Cards can grind out more first downs, I can see Floyd having a big year.
TE – Rob Housler. Arians likes his pass-catching ability. We’ll see, in camp, how far his blocking has come.
LT – Levi Brown. Arians has spent so much time talking Brown up this offseason I don’t see any way Levi isn’t starting. He’ll be playing the left side, and we will find out if his strong finish to 2011 was a mirage or not.
LG – Jonathan Cooper. The only question with Cooper isn’t if he starts but when he signs his contract (and with the front office getting in their vacation, Cooper’s deal will probably be much closer to training camp. That said, it’s nothing to worry about. He’ll be done in time.)
C – Lyle Sendlein. The Cardinals haven’t really done much to create competition at the spot. That seems like a good sign for Sendlein, who remains a steadying influence in the locker room and a quality captain.
RG – Daryn Colledge. Colledge had to flip sides, but he’ll figure it out. He’s getting paid big money and that makes every offseason a little more dicey in a league that’s always looking at that stuff. But Colledge is a good fit right now, especially with rookie Earl Watford still raw in his development.
RT – Bobby Massie. Massie was playing backup left tackle the last week of minicamp, and Nate Potter was running as the No. 1 right tackle. But Arians insisted he will continue to move around guys to have them learn many positions, and that was one example. I still think Massie is the starter come Week 1. He played too well down the stretch last year. Plus, Potter – who also might get work at guard – could be getting groomed for the ultimate jack-of-all-trades offensive line spot as a reserve. It’s necessary after Adam Snyder was released.
TE – Jeff King. It’s hard to get a good handle on this one since King was out or limited almost all of the offseason work. Jim Dray got a lot of first-unit reps too. I still think when all is said and done it will be King opening day, but I think it’s no lock. Is there any chance rookie D.C. Jefferson could sneak his way in? That’s a long shot, but maybe hitting in training camp changes some minds. I wouldn’t be stunned to see them add a veteran tight end in camp.
RB – Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall had his best seasons under Arians in Pittsburgh. Ryan Williams remains a wild card. Stepfan Taylor is probably too far behind, at least at first. Mendenhall is still pretty young in running back’s terms, he’s motivated with a one-year deal and he insists he’s totally healthy. A good combination.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, D.C. Jefferson, Daryn Colledge, Jeff King, Jim Dray, Jonathan Cooper, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Michael Floyd, Nate Potter, Rashard Mendenhall, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor
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