A guess at the 53

Posted by Darren Urban on August 31, 2011 – 4:19 pm

Going into the final game, there are, according to coach Ken Whisenhunt, still roster spots to be won. So to make a guesstimate at the final 53 before the final preseason game leaves a big opening to make a mistake. Injuries can change equations too. But this is what we do — speculate. Realistically, a good chunk of the roster is long set. The battles not left open by injury are usually down to — at most — the final six or seven spots. Frequently less.

(And that’s from an outside perspective. Internally, I am guessing by now the list is even shorter).

Things like the practice squad come into play — if you like two guys equally, maybe one can be on the practice squad and the other on the roster, and both stick around. Of course, anyone on the practice squad has to be exposed to the rest of the league, so you don’t know who might snap someone up. Even once the roster gets to 53, of course, it could immediately change if, say, the Cards grab a player (running back) who has been released elsewhere.(On this list, I am not putting a fourth running back in, even though I think it’s probable).

So, with all those caveats, here’s is my opinion on how it could shake out:

QB — (3) Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Rich Bartel. Brodie Croyle just was here too late to make an impact.

RB — (3) Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Alfonso Smith. Smith plays well on special teams. I think he’d stick around even if the Cards sign a fourth running back, which I think is a real possibility. And then the Cards would have to find a cut from elsewhere on the roster.

FB – (1) Anthony Sherman. Reagan Maui’a has had a good camp, but Sherman is a draft pick, he has impacted special teams and I think he has the right upside. You just can’t keep two fullbacks on the roster.

TE – (4) Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray. It’s a tough call between Dray and Stephen Spach. Dray did some good things on special teams and his youth may give him the edge. Would I be shocked if Spach stayed? No.

WR – (6) Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Stephen Williams, Chansi Stuckey, DeMarco Sampson. I think Sampson has done enough to make the team, and Isaiah Williams could be on the practice squad.

OL – (8) Levi Brown, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Rex Hadnot, Brandon Keith, Deuce Lutui, Jeremy Bridges, Ben Claxton. It’s possible they could keep an extra swingman like Pork Chop Womack, but usually the Cards have just seven linemen active on game days, and since Bridges can play both guard and tackle, they should be set there.

DL – (7) Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Vonnie Holliday, Nick Eason, David Carter, Kenny Iwebema. Iwebema is the man on the fringe, but he can play special teams. The Cards kept seven at this spot last year too. It could be a spot that gets trimmed for another position.

LB – (8) Joey Porter, Paris Lenon, Daryl Washington, Clark Haggans, Stewart Bradley, O’Brien Schofield, Sam Acho, Reggie Walker. I could easily see rookie Quan Sturdivant making it over Walker. But they may try to get the raw Sturdivant to the practice squad.

CB – (5) A.J. Jefferson, Patrick Peterson, Richard Marshall, Michael Adams, Marshay Green. Green had a rough end to the Chargers’ game, but the season-ending injury to Greg Toler might work to his benefit. Not sure there has been enough time for Fred Bennett to prove himself. This could be another battle where the performances against the Broncos resonates. The Cards could also search the waiver wire. In the past, the Cards have had only nine DBs, but injuries may force them to go to 10.

S – (5) Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Rashad Johnson, Hamza Abdullah, Matt Ware. With the uncertainty around Wilson’s biceps injury, keeping an extra safety — Ware, in this case — sounds prudent.

Special teams – (3) LS Mike Leach, K Jay Feely, P Ben Graham. After the way Graham punted last week, I think he’ll hold off Dave Zastudil. It’ll be interesting to see who punts Thursday night. That might be one of the spots that could still be decided.

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48 Responses to “A guess at the 53”

  1. By Phoenixraven1 on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Think it’s all good D

  2. By James on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    If they cut Spach (which I hope they don’t because I know he’s older but I think he has done what they ask of him and what else can you want out of a tough nosed brute like him), who will be back up LS? I know Dray did a lot of ST but Spach has done all those things for the Cards the last 2.5 seasons and never done a bad job. So who takes over for Leach if he goes down??

    Dray/Spach…do you see them getting picked up by another team?

  3. By Darren Urban on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    James —

    RE: Backup LS

    That’s a good question, and one I had not considered. As for getting picked up, you never know. I just don’t know enough about the rest of the league.

  4. By smoothcard on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    I think Will Davis has been a good, young player and outside of his tough season ending injuries, I thought he showed good things getting after the QB and holding the edge. when he’s played the last few seasons and he’s got special teams ability.

    How do think the team feels about him and what do you think his chances are at sticking on? I think he has undervalues abilities when he’s healthy.

  5. By Darren Urban on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    smooth —

    RE: Will Davis

    Given the numbers, I’m not sure Will sticks around.

  6. By Lost on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Why do you think it’s Dray over Spach if the Depth Chart is up to date and Spach is ahead of him?? Hit me with your ideology on that.

  7. By Darren Urban on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Lost —

    RE: Depth chart

    The depth chart isn’t the end all be all. I also have Sherman making it over Maui’a and Reagan is tops on the depth chart.

  8. By Kurt on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply


    Barring injuries your selections seem solid

  9. By Courtney on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Whew…I’m glad Larry is going to make the team.

  10. By Mark in Chandler on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    I Like most of the picks. A couple of places where I think there may be more possibility. I think they may keep 2 full backs especially if they don’t pick a RB up. I think it is possible to keep Porkchop and drop Claxton. I know they like the extra center but I could see them trying to put O’Dowd on practice squad as an emergency replacement if Sendlein goes down long term.

  11. By Secret on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    I would be happy to see Dray make the team, he’s had his fair shares of ups and downs the last few seasons and would be neat to see him finally make it. However, I don’t see him making it because he can’t block. Unless that’s improved this season then I don’t know if he can contribute that much this season.

    Interesting to see Anthony Sherman making this list, I bet if he was given an opportunity like that, then he will only get better.

    Darren, what position seems the most likely to differ from your list?

  12. By Darren Urban on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Secret —

    RE: Differ

    I don’t know if there are any big differences. I guess if I suspected something I would have made those the picks.

  13. By R Robles on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Sounds good to me.

  14. By MIKE G on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren –I think you are on the $$$ with the roster–I think you may be 95% on the money!!

  15. By Ben on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    How do you see Bradley working this year. Do you think Porter runs with the 1’s on game day?

  16. By Darren Urban on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Ben —

    RE: Bradley

    I think he’ll be used in a rotation with Lenon and Washington. They will all get lots of PT.

  17. By AndyStandsUp on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    Seems pretty cut and dried.
    The only possible changes I can think of is Claxton going to the PS, (Hadnot can also play C) and either Womack or Pestock making the team and Will Davis(or Ozibior) on board with Green going to PS. (Ware can also play CB.)
    If they Cards decide to look at RB, CB or I’m hoping OLB in cuts, important upcoming game for all the above.

  18. By Kevin on Aug 31, 2011 | Reply

    QB – Agree
    RB – I think they’ll sign one after the last round of cuts AND keep Smith. Unfortunately this probably costs Iwebema a roster spot, but with Beanie’s injury history, they’ll probably not leave themselves short behind him. I was hoping for Slaton, but with Foster’s hammy acting up, he’s probably not going anywhere next week..
    FB – Agree
    WR – Agree
    OL – I was figuring with Hadnot’s experience at C, they would keep Womack over Claxton.
    DL – I guess Iwebema has to go for my extra running back. Hate to see it, but I think it’s necessary.
    LB – I think Sturdivant’s too talented to make it to the practice squad. I think he stays over Walker.
    CB – Not only did Green play VERY poorly at the end of the Chargers game, he also spent WAY too much time running in at the end of numerous plays with his hands thrown up in the air in disgust in the GB game. I have to think he gets bumped for Bennett (or more likely, another released veteran).
    S – I’m sure they don’t want to keep 5 safeties, but there is no way they open the season with less than 4 healthy ones on the roster. When Wilson gets back and proves his health, Ware or Abdullah will be gone.
    ST – Agree, but Graham better start strong if he doesn’t want some in-season competition.


  19. By Don Short on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    I see the fifth safety being cut after the first week, when:
    1. They have a better handle on Wilson’s injury.
    2. They can pick up a vet and not have to guarantee the vet’s salary.

  20. By Faith on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Hello Darren,

    I think you are great! I like and agree with your picks a lot until we get to the LB position. I say this because we have two old OLB starting that have not shown us much production last season and this pre-season. Both Portor and Haggans should be let go or at least one of them. We always have such a big problem with this position every year. We keep playing them and nothing is consistent with them. The idea that we are keeping both of them seems foolish to me. I understand that they both have experience and stay healthy for the most part but they just do not get the job done. I do not understand why there is even a possibility that Will Davis would be cut! He has a lot of upside to him and shows that he can get to the quarter back both inside and out when healthy. I understand that Schofield is great and still has some things to work on but, to be honest both he and Davis should be starting for us. With their quickness they could really shake up an offense. The both of them would be able to create double teams which could then lead to the other possibly getting a sack or hurry.

    I just do not see how Portor and Haggans would be able to phyisicaly beat both Davis and Schofield as a duo. Ocho has not shown us anything this pre-season. I honestly see no upside to him. Not to mention he looks slow and seems that he will not be a good conversion to OLB. I have recorded all the preseason games thus far this season and have watched them over again and I have seen Davis get in many times and even Obiozor got some good rushes in. I have not seen Ocho get in once! And Davis’s rookie season I think he had a sack and many good rushes in the preseason games which let me know that he was a good prospect. I just do not understand why Davis would even be a possible cut. I understand that his injuries could have hurt him but even with that he has proven there is great talent there. Lastly, if anything this year they should just keep Davis as the 5th OLB because who knows if Portor or Haggans would be able to make it through a another full season. But to me it seems that the NFL is more about politics then talent sometimes. So Darren can you explain to me why, besides the numbers game, Davis would be cut? Because I have a feeling if they let him go, he will go somewhere else and be great. And we will be left with Ocho and wondering what the hell were we thinking! Thanks

  21. By Darren Urban on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Faith —

    RE: WIll Davis

    You can’t keep everyone. I would say that, at this point, they know what they have in Davis. They have to weigh that against the others.

  22. By Michael S. on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    I think I agree with Faith. Davis has too much talent to let go right now when we are lacking at putting pressure on quarterbacks. I think Arizona give him another year to do something. Go Cards!

  23. By Rich on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    gotta keep will davis and pork chop and another rb. marshay is gone for an upgrade. d line needs to get cut to 6 with a psquader like navarre. hamza goes.

  24. By Jeff Gollin on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    It suddenly occurred to me that survival of a player may rely on a bunch of back stories that we fans may not be aware of.

    Stories that might reflect special stuff about attitudes, leadership qualities and other character intangibles.

    No doubt you might consider some of this stuff off limits, but I do believe that a few guys may hang on by their fingernails because, considering the above factors, “the coaches like them.”

  25. By Louisville Card on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Darren,

    I read in another article that Max Hall went on IR instead of injured-waived. Is that true and if so what does that mean for Max?

  26. By Darren Urban on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Louisville —

    RE: Max Hall

    Hall did clear waivers and reverts the injured reserve. They will probably try to figure out an injury settlement, but until then, he’s on IR.

  27. By Lonnie Nutt on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    I agree with most of the slots except one glaring weakness: At 5-9 Michael Adams is just to short to play first string CB. I dont care how fast you are, if you are 6-8 inches shorter than the reciever you are going to get beat to the corner fade route. I say drop MA to the practice squad and either move Bennett up or Pick up a free agent later as the cuts come in. What do you think??

  28. By Darren Urban on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Lonnie —

    RE: Adams

    Michael would be the fourth CB, not a starter. And he cannot be on the practice squad.

  29. By shannon robinson on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Claxton was inactive at every game all year – he’s also a strong lineman who plays guard and center. I vote for Pork Chop and agree with Smoothcard that O’Dowd is the practice squad reserve and Hadnot the emergency Center – a tough call. I regret the choice of Porter over Davis as I believe Will has a future and has played well in pressure, and I understand they believe Joey brings knowlege of the system. My preference then is to cut M. Green who is practice squad elligible They must think Q. Sturdivant goes through waivers to the practice squad – I hope so. Cyril Obiozor is another young linebacker with a future who is still practice squad elligible. I’m glad the team brought Iwebema back and I think they’ll retain Jeremy Navarre with the reserves. To have these competitive problems proves again the good job Mr. Graves and Mr. Keim did this year.

  30. By Bobbo on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply


    Who do you see making the practice squad?

  31. By Darren Urban on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Bobbo —

    RE: Practice squad

    I think Lumpkin is a candidate. I could see a CB, probably an OL. We have to see who ends up on the 53 first.

  32. By tamara on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    tell larry happy belated birthday

  33. By smoothcard on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    I think Iwebema has to stick around. He’s such a valuable Special Teams guy and a Good solid strong 3-4 DE that hold well at the Point of Attack and He’s generated pretty good pressure on passing downs when he’s played. Maybe going 7 olineman and Adding Will Davis might be a good, in my opinion anyways, But I don’t get paid the big bucks to make those decisions. Davis offers a guy that has rushed the passer really well when he’s had the opportunity and has special teams value. I think he’ll finally move past those unfortunate injuries and be a solid player for someone. But with the aging guys that we keep trying to count on we need all the young guys we can get and these are guys who have great upside. Not just nobodies.

  34. By JamesP on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Have to go I Williams over Stuckey. Stuckey won’t be returning punts, so Williams has much more potential as a receiver, especially if Stuckey isn’t in the special teams plans, which we haven’t seen evidence of. Williams will play at league minimum as well, which opens up money for CB’s or RB’s on the waiver.

  35. By John on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply


    How is a player considered eligible for the practice squad?

  36. By Darren Urban on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    John —

    RE: Practice squad

    Basically, a player can only be on the practice squad two seasons. He cannot have been active for more than six games in a season.

  37. By riwjr on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Does Brodie Croyle get playing time tonight, even though (I agree) he’ll probably get released?

  38. By Darren Urban on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    riwjr —

    RE: Croyle

    If Skelton cannot play, I expect Croyle to play.

  39. By Chuck 1 on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Graves and Whiz trade Hightower to the Redskins for Pork Chop Womack?

    And, he might not even make the roster???

    Another screw-up by the Graves and Whiz???

  40. By Darren Urban on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Chuck 1 —

    RE: Hightower trade

    Don’t worry, I’ll correct you. The Cards got DE Vonnie Holliday in the Hightower trade. He will be making the team.

  41. By Peter in Canada on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Faith – I agree with you mostly.

    Haggans showed o.k. against S.D. but Porter and Acho haven’t shown much and I think Porter’s tank is empty. I’d give Davis another shot.

    I prefer Womack to Claxton.

    We have Housler and Heap as pass catching TE’s. If Dray doesn’t block I’d cut him and keep Spach.

    Sturdivant hasn’t shown anything so I don’t see why anyone would take him off the practice squad.

  42. By Big Precious on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    It’ll be interesting to see if the Beanie Baby Wells misses a few games this year who will fill in for him…

    Darren —

    Who do you think wil be the biggest curveball this year (like 2nd rd. pick Cody Brown last year) that Whiz will cut?

  43. By Darren Urban on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Big Precious —

    RE: Curveball

    I’m not sure there will be one.

  44. By John from Oz on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Ben Graham HAS to be the punter – offensive weapon, booming boot, and a leader on and off the park.
    Tactically your best bet for this position.

  45. By Coolman on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Will Davis proved, tonight, what Faith said earlier. Will Davis, by far, played as the best olb tonight!

  46. By Chuck 1 on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Thanks, Darren.
    I knew that you would come to my rescue.
    Now, I forget how the Cards acquired Pork Chop, please.

  47. By Darren Urban on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Chuck 1 —

    RE: Pork Chop

    He was just a regular free-agent signing. Like Bradley or Richard Marshall, although I think it was only for one year. I’d have to check that.

  48. By AZ Cardinals Rock on Sep 3, 2011 | Reply

    Sorry to those who were released. Wish them all a second chance somewhere else.

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