Cardinals' Offensive Depth Chart and Position Battles

There are always positional battles in training camp and in early May there are just too many variables to figure it all out. But we can preview the positions heading into camp.

Quarterback: The top two spots are set. Leinart would have to lose the job in camp to not be the opening day starter, but Warner is ready and waiting should Matt experience any hiccups. The spot to watch though is the #3 job. If the Cardinals chose to carry a third QB on the 53 man rosters it'll be St. Pierre (some teams carry just two). If they chose to carry only two, St Pierre would have to be released because the former Steeler has too much service time to be relegated to the practice squad. In that case, undrafted free agent rookie, Anthony Morelli would be the third QB but wouldn't count against the 53 because he'd be on the practice squad.

Running Back/Fullback: The drafting of Hightower and the projection of Castille (spent last season on the practice squad) means at least one of the current players has to go, if not two. At RB, the group includes Edge, Arrington, Shipp and Hightower. It is possible that the team could keep all four but it would be odd. Arrington offers something in the return game not to mention that he's younger (25) and cheaper than Shipp (30 years old). If the team decides to keep just three running backs, Shipp would look like the lowest on the totem pole. At fullback, Castille is a second year, undrafted free agent who's been praised by the coaching staff for bulking up in the off season. The coaching staff could have a difficult decision on their hands if it comes down to cutting veteran Terrelle Smith in favor of Castille. Smith hit 30 years old this year and he's considerably more expensive his counterpart. I'd look for Shipp and Smith to cut released before the start of the season.

Wide Reciever: We've already talked about the battle for the #3 WR job, but the competition will likely stretch all the way to the #5 job as well. The guys that stick around will have to contribute on special teams. Steve Breaston's roster spot should be safe considering he was one of the best punt returners in the league in 2007. Jerheme Urban is the most accomplished receiver outside of Fitz and Q, and he'll have to show continued improvement to keep his job. The group of Sean Morey (special teams standout), Ahmad Merritt (missed all of 2007 with injury), Jamaica Rector (speedster from Dallas), and undrafted free agent rookie, Lance Long will have to stand out above the rest in order to stick around. Obviously Fitz, Q, and Doucet's jobs are safe, so that leaves probably three other jobs among the six. Breaston will have fall on his face in order to not make the roster and Urban would have to prove he doesn't belong. That really leaves just one spot for the Morey, Merritt, Rector, and Long.


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Picture via azcardinals.com

Tight End: Possibly the only position that is set in stone (barring injury) is tight end. The order of the depth chart could be somewhat volatile but the roster spots should be set. Leonard Pope is the current starter but Ben Patrick has shown serious potential and could push him for playing top. Jermane Tuman was signed as a blocking tight end and he's one of the better ones at that.

Offensive Line: The good news is the starting five is nearly set. Barring injury or surprisingly bad play by a starter or great play by a backup the starting five will return a second consecutive for the first time in forever. The semi-bad news is that depth is somewhat of a question. The top three backups at this points seem to be Elton Brown, Lyle Sendlein, and seventh round pick Brandon Keith. The others in the mix include undrafted free agent rookies Thaddeus Coleman, Carlton Medder, Peter Clifford and Hercules Satele. The backups are at the very least versatile with Brown and Keith both being able to play guard and tackle while Sendlein can play all three interior spots. There have also been rumors that the Cardinals will be scanning the waiver wire for a veteran free agent tackle once camp cuts start. The UDFAs are more likely competing against each other to see who ends up on the practice squad and who is on the street. The wild card is Brandon Keith. If he shows signs of being a legit player in camp, he could answer quite a few questions for the Cardinals in the future.

All in all it should be an interesting camp but there are some great signs for the Cardinals heading into it. Nearly every single starting job on the offensive side of the ball is set, depending on whether or not you think there is a QB controversy. Competition is great and should make for an interesting July and August.

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