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.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Cory Brandon, Danny Hrapmann, Harold Goodwin, Max Starks, Nate Potter, Roster
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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.
Tags: Anthony Steen, Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Brittan Golden, Chandler Catanzaro, Danny Hrapmann, Earl Watford, Ernie Sims, Jalen Parmele, Jaron Brown, Jay Feely, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Kenny Demens, Logan Thomas, Paul Fanaika, Robert Hughes, Roster, Ryan Lindley, Ted Larsen, training camp, Walt Powell, Zach Bauman
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I’ve been covering the Cardinals full-time since 2000. I don’t ever remember a time when there were three kickers on the roster, even in the offseason and even when the team was actively looking for a kicker. But that’s what the Cardinals have right now, even with incumbent Jay Feely. He is joined by undrafted rookie Chandler Catanzaro out of Clemson and Danny Hrapmann, who has had a couple of cups of coffee with the Steelers. Hrapmann has a big leg even though he’s the smallest of the three. You can see that. Cantanzaro had a solid college career, but because Clemson had a punter (Bradley Pinion) who could kick off, he hasn’t done a lot of it. Neither have the résumé of Feely, who has had a very good 14-year career and nailed 30 of 36 field goals last season.
Bruce Arians hasn’t hidden his desire to create competition at kicker since last training camp (Feely responded well then). Still, it’s odd to have three kickers around. What will be interesting to see is if the Cardinals decided to sign one or two of the tryout players in this weekend’s minicamp. Anyone signed means someone has to be cut. Would the Cards trim the kicking lineup to get back a spot on the 90-man roster, or will the Cards bring three kickers all the way to training camp? Or the preseason? Teams are usually loathe to spend too many roster spots on specialists, even in the summer.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Chandler Catanzaro, Danny Hrapmann, Jay Feely
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Kicker Jay Feely used Twitter to let everyone know Monday he had re-signed with the Arizona Cardinals less than 24 hours before he would have hit the free-agent market.
Happy to announce I am signed back with the @AZCardinals I never wanted to play with different teammates or for another organization.
— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) March 10, 2014
The move makes sense for both sides. The Cardinals want a veteran kicker going into the offseason — they already signed Danny Hrapmann as a young, big leg to compete — and Feely wanted to return. The team has yet to officially announce anything. Feely had 127 points this season, converting 30 of 36 field goals. It will be interesting to see if the team is done at the position or if it will be Feely trying to fend off Hrapmann in a battle for the job. The Cardinals would like to get more touchbacks on kickoffs and there is always a possibility of carrying a pair of kickers (although I would not expect it.)
Regardless, the Cards have stability in the kicking game now that both Feely and punter Dave Zastudil have avoided free agency as the offseason gets underway. UPDATE: Kent Somers reports it’s a one-year deal, and that Feely expects competition. Both make sense.
Tags: Danny Hrapmann, Dave Zastudil, free agency, Jay Feely
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The Cardinals had a handful of kickers in to try out a couple of weeks ago, including YouTube sensation Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland. They finally signed one — but it wasn’t Rugland. The Cards got a futures deal done with Southern Mississippi product Danny Hrapmann, who spent a couple of training camps with the Pittsburgh Steelers and who has also kicked for New Orleans of the Arena Football League. Hrapmann made all six of his field goals in the 2012 preseason and didn’t get a chance to try one last season.
As of now, Hrapmann is the lone placekicker the Cardinals have under contract for 2014, since veteran Jay Feely is set to become a free agent in March. It is no surprise the Cardinals signed at least one other kicker besides Feely. The question will become if Feely is also brought back, and/or if the Cards look in any other direction.
Tags: Danny Hrapmann, Havard Rugland, Jay Feely
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