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“Final” cuts aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 30, 2014 – 6:29 pm

It’s tough to fully analyze the Cardinals’ roster right now after the initial moves to get to a 53-man roster. Waiver claims come through Sunday, and really, the surprise will be if the Cardinals don’t claim one or two players — which would mean they would have to cut the corresponding amount from the 53. So a guy could have made the team today and  be off by tomorrow. Yes, it’s a rough, rough business.

Surprises? Nothing of note. I had different picks for my 53, before the final preseason game. I managed to hit on the offense. They kept only four cornerbacks — I had Bryan McCann as a fifth — and the linebackers as I thought were a problem for me. I had Desmond Bishop and Glenn Carson cut, and Marcus Benard in. Wrong. But as we go forward, what to expect?

There are six wide receivers for now, but as Bruce Arians said, the bottom five on the roster shouldn’t be comfortable because the potential for change is constant. Walt Powell could easily slide on the practice squad at some point. So too could Carson, if the Cardinals don’t need a fifth inside linebacker. Is another backup tackle possible? Could Max Starks come back like Arians said he might? I suppose the one surprise is the fact the Cardinals only have eight defensive backs, given that Tyrann Mathieu’s status is so up in the air. But I believe Teddy Williams is practice-squad eligible and I don’t know if McCann is going to get picked up anywhere anyways.

The practice squad will be 10 strong now, don’t forget, with the potential of a couple of veterans. So maybe the Cards keep WR Brittan Golden if he isn’t claimed, and other potential practice-squad guys would be defensive tackle Bruce Gaston, interior offensive lineman Anthony Steen and tight end Andre Hardy. I’d think there also could be a couple of outside guys come in for the practice squad too.

This isn’t over yet.

– A quick note: Veteran LB James Harrison retired today. So that’s no longer an option.

53bloguse

 


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One guess at the 53

Posted by Darren Urban on August 27, 2014 – 4:25 pm

The Cardinals have 75 on the roster now. By Saturday at 1 p.m. Arizona time, they must be down to 53. As always, we have a caveat whenever talking about that initial 53-man roster. I would be surprised if the Cardinals don’t claim at least one guy from waivers. Veterans don’t have guaranteed contracts if they are not on the Week 1 roster, so sometimes that’s a factor. If anything, GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians have shown many times the roster is a living, breathing thing subject to change at any and all times. That was apparent again today when the team signed Tommy Kelly, and news broke veteran James Harrison was going to visit. I can’t see Kelly signing and then being cut Saturday, but you never know.

Plus, the final preseason game can have some bearing on a couple of roster spots (Arians said it’d be about five.) And that doesn’t even include any potential injuries that could affect a guy who was going to make the team.

All that must be taken into account as I make my prediction at the 53-man roster (assuming no waiver claims, which I have already assumed will happen, so …):

QB (3): Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas. Ryan Lindley getting cut made this obvious, although it had been obvious for a while.

RB (4): Andre Ellington, Jonathan Dwyer, Stepfan Taylor, Robert Hughes. Jalen Parmele has been good on special teams, but I don’t see it. I could see the Cardinals searching for a back with some speed for the practice squad.

WR (6): Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown, Jaron Brown, Ted Ginn, Walt Powell. Powell has played well enough that I don’t think they can sneak him on to the practice squad. I thought Brittan Golden had a pretty good camp too. He is practice-squad eligible, though.

TE (4): John Carlson, Rob Housler, Troy Niklas, Darren Fells. I could see Andre Hardy sticking on the practice squad too.

OL (8): Jared Veldheer, Ted Larsen, Lyle Sendlein, Paul Fanaika, Bobby Massie, Jonathan Cooper, Bradley Sowell, Earl Watford. This one is a tough one and the play of Sowell and Nate Potter in the finale could go a long way in making a decision on the backup tackle. I am also guessing that Watford, despite not being able to take hold of an available starting job for two straight years, gets another year. This is also one of those spots I’d think is vulnerable to a waiver claim.

DL (7): Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Frostee Rucker, Kareem Martin, Ed Stinson, Alameda Ta’amu, Tommy Kelly. This is one of those places that is tenuous. Kelly’s addition — he is with the team in San Diego, so does he play tomorrow? — adds another intriguing question. I’d guess a final spot will go to either him or Isaac Sopoaga. Can rookie Bruce Gaston make a push or is he practice-squad bound? The Cards are still seeking depth here, wherever they can find it.

OLB (5): Sam Acho, Matt Shaughnessy, John Abraham, Alex Okafor, Marcus Benard.
ILB (4): Kevin Minter, Larry Foote, Kenny Demens, Lorenzo Alexander. These two spots need to be seen in total, and nowhere else was more difficult to sort through. Alexander, I think, is one of those guys who survives because of his special teams work. Marcus Benard has pass-rushing skills that this team could use, but obviously, this leaves Desmond Bishop out. I’d think Thursday night’s game will be important for him. (UDFA Glenn Carson would be a practice-squad candidate). One thing I can’t get out of my head is Arians talking about keeping players at positions that are hard to replace if injuries hit. The Cards may want to stay deep at linebacker given the injury situation. None of this allows for a signing of James Harrison, of course, if that were to happen. This is the position I am least sure about.

CB (5): Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Bryan McCann. I would think the final spot comes down to McCann or Teddy Williams. Williams seemed like a lock to me with his size and special teams ability, but McCann is pretty good on special teams too and Williams has had his ups and downs as a cornerback. Thursday night would seem to be a big game for both.

S (4): Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson, Deone Bucannon, Tyrann Mathieu. This is assuming Mathieu is close to contributing soon, but even if he isn’t, the Cardinals have a nice trio as Bucannon grows into this role.

Specialists (3): K Chandler Catanzaro, P Dave Zastudil, LS Mike Leach. Pretty straightforward. The Cardinals haven’t come out and said Catanzaro is guaranteed to stick around all season, but I’d think he’ll have his shot to prove himself in games that count.

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Cards sign LB Bishop

Posted by Darren Urban on August 14, 2014 – 8:27 am

The Cardinals have filled one of their three empty roster spots, and as Bruce Arians promised, it’s with someone the team hopes can be more than just a camp body. Veteran inside linebacker Desmond Bishop arrived Thursday with a couple of weeks to try and make enough of an impression to stick around.

Bishop was drafted by the Packers in 2007 and won a Super Bowl while in Green Bay in 2010. But his time with the Packers ended after he missed the entire 2012 season following a preseason hamstring injury that needed surgery. He signed a one-year contract with the Vikings last season, but in the fourth game he played for Minnesota he tore his ACL, ending his season. In his last full season, Bishop had more than 100 tackles and five sacks.

So, with that background of very few football games played in two years, Bishop comes to Arizona. After cutting inside linebacker Ernie Sims, the Cardinals could use more numbers inside, especially with starter Kevin Minter nursing an injured pectoral muscle. The top four inside linebackers have been Minter, Larry Foote, Lorenzo Alexander and Kenny Demens. That’s the group Bishop probably needs to crack to stick around.

It’ll be the second linebacker the Cards get today, since John Abraham is expected to arrive after missing camp thus far for personal reasons.

Desmond Bishop, Frank Gore


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Healthy Cards cut another linebacker

Posted by Darren Urban on August 8, 2014 – 9:45 am

Remember how Bruce Arians joked about how the Cardinals had “way too many” on the roster right now? It looks like there was some truth in that quip. I mean, Arians said that in response to when the Cards might fill to two open spots left with the departures of Jake Ballard and Ernie Sims. Not only have the Cardinals not filled those spots, but they created another one Friday when they cut outside linebacker Trevardo Williams, who had just been claimed off waivers last weekend.

Arians had already said the only player expected to miss Saturday’s preseason opener against Houston was starting center Lyle Sendlein, down with his calf injury. Even with Williams’ release, that leaves 85 players on the roster prepared to play (minus PUP guys Tyrann Mathieu and Alameda Ta’amu). That seems a bit much to juggle as it is (hence, Arians “way too many” comment.) A couple of guys aren’t expected to play because of position-battle preseason rotations — QB Ryan Lindley and K Jay Feely this week — but the Cardinals have plenty at all the positions, especially since they are trying to see the performance of some young guys.

This leaves three roster spots open, which is handy given that once you go through a preseason game, inevitably some guys will get banged up. The Cardinals can easily buoy those positions next week if needed.


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The first depth chart

Posted by Darren Urban on August 4, 2014 – 3:55 pm

The Cardinals released their first depth chart today. There are no real surprises. Newcomer Max Starks is ahead of Bradley Sowell for second-unit right tackle. John Abraham is still listed as a starter. Tony Jefferson is the starter at strong safety over Deone Bucannon. Ryan Lindley is third-team QB over Logan Thomas. But again, these battles are ongoing and we all know, for instance, Thomas and Lindley are essentially fighting for one spot that is basically even right now.

With this being so early in camp, my guess is not a lot will change on the chart. It’s meaning increases once we get to the regular season. Regardless, here is the whole thing:

Microsoft Word - AZ Depth Chart-2014


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Cards bring in vet T Starks

Posted by Darren Urban on August 1, 2014 – 10:27 am

For a second straight year, the Cardinals have brought in a veteran tackle around the beginning of training camp. Unlike last year, the addition of Max Starks will in theory be about depth than starting — which is really why the Cards grabbed Eric Winston a year ago.

Last year, the Cardinals were not comfortable with Bobby Massie at right tackle, and when Winston was available, they made it work. Winston ended up starting all season. This year, the feeling on Massie has changed. This is likely more of a depth move — Bruce Arians will address it in a bit — and who knows? Maybe this is more about Bradley Sowell or Nate Potter. In the end, it’ll be about the competition it creates. At this point in his career, Starks is no lock to make the roster. He started all 16 games at tackle for the Steelers in 2012, but last year, he played only two games with the Rams after the Chargers cut him in the preseason.

UPDATE: It’s definitely about depth and not Massie.

What he does do is give Arians and OC/OL coach Harold Goodwin someone with whom they are familiar from their time in Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals also cut kicker Danny Hrapmann, so that battle is down to Jay Feely and Chandler Catanzaro. Tackle Cory Brandon was released too, so the Cardinals now have an open roster spot.

StarksBLOG


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Cardinals add wide receiver

Posted by Darren Urban on July 25, 2014 – 9:29 am

After cutting undrafted rookie receiver Kelsey Pope earlier this week, the Cardinals had a roster spot open. It’s now been filled. The team signed wide receiver Reggie Dunn Friday. Dunn was undrafted out of Utah last year, and has already spent time with the Patriots, Browns, Packers, Dolphins and Steelers in his short time in the NFL. At 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, he’s another of the small, quick guys the Cards have looked at, and he will likely end up being a camp body. Dunn, however, was one of the most successful kickoff return men in college, returning four for touchdowns in 2012 and five in his collegiate career.

The Cardinals are in good shape at receiver, in all actuality. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn and John Brown are basically locked into the top four spots, and that doesn’t include what they could get from Jaron Brown, rookie Walt Powell and Brittan Golden.


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Considering intriguing camp battles

Posted by Darren Urban on July 18, 2014 – 4:17 pm

This isn’t necessarily about starters, since I have already addressed that directly. But the battles of training camp aren’t always about who plays first or the most. Sometimes it’s about roster battles and depth and who plays more than who. Some competition will come seemingly from nowhere — going into camp last season, no one would have guess Paul Fanaika would have gotten into the mix, but the Daryn Colledge injury helped that come into focus — so there will be other players to watch.

But for now, here is some of the competition I will be watching:

Guards Earl Watford, Paul Fanaika, Ted Larsen and Anthony Steen. Larsen has been backing up Lyle Sendlein at center while Steen, who can also back up both spots, didn’t do anything in the offseason recovering from injuries. Someone will be the starting right guard. The Cardinals would like for Watford to step up. It very well could be Fanaika for a second straight season. Watford should be on the roster regardless, so if he’s not starting, that will be a spot that must be won. The Cards likely will only dress seven on game days, making those swing interior guys valuable.

Tackles Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell. OK, everyone knows this one. It doesn’t make it any less intriguing. Like Watford, Massie is the guy the Cardinals would like to win the job. But he’s got to win it. Sowell isn’t going away without a fight. Sowell, however, can be a valuable game-day backup since he played left tackle all last season and can play the right. That’s a one-for-two guy on your bench.

Cornerbacks Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers. With Tyrann Mathieu still hurt, Powers is an important piece in nickle coverage to start the season. But when Mathieu gets back, can Bethel — who got so much love for his potential this offseason — find a way past Powers on the depth chart? Bethel still has much to prove. Powers has his limitations, but his smarts make him a favorite of Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians.

Inside linebackers Ernie Sims and Kenny Demens. Sims has the experience, but he also has the reputation of struggling the past couple of seasons, which is why he finds himself bouncing around the league. The Cardinals have been intrigued with Demens since his (undrafted) rookie year last year, when he spent most of his time on the practice squad. Sims came in late and is trying to catch up. Losing Daryl Washington sent a lot of things into flux at inside linebacker. One of these guys are vying for a depth role probably behind Kevin Minter, Larry Foote and Lorenzo Alexander.

Kickers Jay Feely, Chandler Catanzaro and Danny Hrapmann. This is another obvious one. Still it’s one to watch. It’s definitely a subject that seems to get the fans riled up — and looking around the league, it’s a position that tends to do that with the fan base, for whatever reason.

Running backs Robert Hughes, Jalen Parmele and Zach Bauman. Arians came out praising Hughes. He figures to be the top choice as the fourth running back behind Ellington, Dwyer and Taylor. But Parmele is another big guy who has played in the league and could sneak his way into the spot instead. What will be interesting is if the Cardinals want less of a bruiser as a fourth, like a Bauman, considering Dwyer is a big back and Taylor is more of a between-the-tackles guy too.

Wide receivers Jaron Brown, Walt Powell and Brittan Golden. The top four receiving spots are taken. Fitz is Fitz and Floyd is Floyd. Ted Ginn will have a role, as will third-round pick John Brown. Brown flashed last year but again, he’s got competition. He’s bigger than Powell and definitely Golden — Golden would seem to be in trouble given the arrival of Brown and Ginn — but Powell is a draft pick and that usually ends up playing a role if it’s close.

Quarterbacks Logan Thomas and Ryan Lindley. It’s hard to believe that, barring a meltdown, Thomas doesn’t find a way on to the roster. But you never know, and both players figure to get plenty of playing time in the preseason to let any battle play out in front of us.

battlesuse

 


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The roster heading into camp

Posted by Darren Urban on July 15, 2014 – 3:55 pm

Next week is the week.

With the Cardinals’ decision-makers trickling back into the building, the end of minicamp has been a moratorium of sorts. Time off is the important thing, and with no football-related things going on, there was no reason to make any roster changes over the last month-plus. But that potentially changes Monday when everyone is back in Tempe and the Cards gear up for the camp that starts at the end of the week.

That’s no guarantee anything will happen. Last season, the Cardinals didn’t do anything to the roster (save for signing a couple of draftees) after May 21 until right as camp was starting. The biggest reasons? It was time to put Ryan Swope on the retired list (bringing in Robby Toma) and the Cardinals needed to clear room for linebacker John Abraham and tackle Eric Winston. That made just a bit of a splash as camp opened.

The Cards last transaction was June 9. Could they have another veteran or two that make sense to sign? If it’s going to happen without someone getting injured, this is the time. Vets on the market know they probably aren’t going to make the kind of money they once thought they might (Tyson Clabo, anyone?). This time around, I’m thinking the Cards have some faith in Bobby Massie, enough of which to see how he develops these next few weeks. I don’t know of any decent pass rushers hanging out either. Don’t forget, last year, Bruce Arians was still trying to get a handle on his players. Now, he knows better what they can do.

This isn’t to say the Cardinals aren’t going to stand pat with the roster. Things can change quickly, with players taking physicals next week and everything. You want to maximize the roster as practices begin. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how it all evolves, heading toward that 53-man lineup the Cards must pare down to prior to the season opener against the Chargers.


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Adding vets waiting game now

Posted by Darren Urban on June 10, 2014 – 7:36 am

The news came out yesterday that the Cardinals worked out veteran right tackle Tyson Clabo, although the two sides couldn’t agree to a contract. Usually, that means the player wants more money than the team is willing to offer (it’s never the other way around, you know?) In a lot of ways, it reminded me of last year’s dance with Eric Winston, the right tackle who didn’t sign until right before training camp and who reportedly spent the offseason with an asking price for significantly more money than the Cardinals ended up paying him.

Such is the dance of this time of year with established veterans who have yet to find a roster spot. Some team might want a player. That player could very well want to play. But there is little urgency in June. The player doesn’t want to have to settle for a lesser salary and doesn’t have any reason to for now. The team isn’t about to overpay, especially with games a couple of months away and the rosters sitting at 90 players already anyway.

Things will change as the end of July — and training camps — draws close. Somebody will blink across the league. Winston reportedly has drawn interest from the Ravens, but again, nothing has happened (I do not expect Winston to return here, but that can always change.) Will Clabo earn a better offer elsewhere? Will the Cardinals, after minicamp that starts today, still think they want him on the roster for training camp? Given that the Cards know what they have at right tackle already, I don’t think they are going to spend much more to throw more options at the position. Same goes for any other spot on the field to which they might want to add. It’ll be about bargain add-ons now — like Winston and Abraham and Karlos Dansby last year — and the Cards will be willing to wait.

 


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