So with most of training camp and one preseason game behind us, what better way to waste some time than trying to predict the impossible: the 53 Man Roster. We already took one stab at it and it wasn't exactly perfect. I missed on Bo Schobel who was one of the first cuts, but I was correct on Marcel Shipp getting cut. The first big cut-down day is August 26 and that's when teams have to cut down the roster from 80 to 75 players. Four days later (by Aug. 30) they'll have to cut it down to the final 53 and one day later they can start building their eight person practice squad. So with no further adieu here's ROTB's second try on the Cardinals official 53 man roster:
QBs: (3) - Matt Lienart, Kurt Warner, and Brian St. Pierre
I've never been a fan of keeping 3 QBs on the active roster, but I'm starting to come around to the fact that it's a necessary evil. For the record, I think they'll try and keep undrafted rookie Anthony Morelli on the practice squad.
RBs: (3) - Edgerrin James, JJ Arrington, Tim Hightower
Shipp didn't last as long as I thought he would and I'm not a big JJ fan but he's versatile and in a contract year. Hopefully that's enough to motivate him enough to finally step up and become a player. For all intents and purposes though, Hightower is the #2. As for Steve Baylark, he's had a good camp but they've got enough big, power backs so they don't keep him on the practice squad for a second consecutive year.
FBs: (1) - Terrelle Smith
I'm going to back track on my original prediction that Tim Castille beats out the veteran Smith. If Smith hadn't had a couple of great plays against the Saints, he might not be my choice but he looked great and Castille didn't stand out. They'll try and keep Castille on the practice squad for another year.
WRs: (6) - Fitz, Q, Early Doucet, Steve Breaston, Jerheme Urban, Jamaica Rector
For now I'm sticking to my pick of these guys as the top six. I know that Sean Morey has a long track record for being a special teams standout and he's a Whiz guy, but at some point what a player can do in the future trumps what another player has done in the past.
TEs: (3) - Leonard Pope, Ben Patrick, Jermane Tuman
No surprise here, tight end is quite possibly the most set position on the offensive depth chart. Pope and Patrick are the youth and future and Tuman, the former Steeler, is the veteran blocking tight end that Whiz covets. I'd imagine that they'll try and keep a tight end on the practice squad just in case Pope goes down again and just for grins I'll say it's former Sun Devil, Brent Miller.
OL: (9) - Levi Brown, Deuce Lutui, Al Johnson, Reggie Wells, Mike Gandy, Elton Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Brandon Keith, One veteran OT cut by another team
Wow, where to start with the offensive line, there are just so many variables to consider. Keith's strong play up until this point has removed any doubt that he'll make the roster meaning that the top eight spots are pretty much set in stone. The wild-card in Al Johnson's knee because if his injury doesn't heal properly, he could end up on the PUP list for first six weeks. Since teams normally carry nine or sometimes ten linemen there are one or two spots (or three if AJ's on the PUP) that could be up for grabs. I still think that they'll keep their eye on the waiver wire for a veteran offensive tackles who gets cut but a guy like Pat Ross could sneak on the squad if AJ's knee is worse than they think. At least two of the linemen who don't make the squad will be on the practice squad and just to put two names on record, I'll go with Hercules Satele and Peter Clifford.
DT/NT: (2) - Gabe Watson & Alan Branch
No change here but hopefully Watson returns sooner instead of later because Branch has been awful underwhelming during camp. Bryan Robinson can also be listed here but I listed his as a DE last time so for the sake of consistency, I'll keep him on the outside.
DE: (5) - Darnell Dockett, Antonio Smith, Bryan Robinson, Calais Campbell & Kenny Iwebema
Talk about deep and versatile, almost everyone of these guys can slide down to DT when the Cardinals decides to roll out a 4-3. I've touted Keilen Dykes from the get-go but his injury didn't help his case and he loses out in a numbers game but they do keep him around on the practice squad..
OLB: (4) - Chike Okeafor, Bertrand Berry, Clark Haggans & Travis LaBoy
The outside backers are deep and talented and should make for a formidable rotation. All four guys are capable of being solid starters. Chris Harrington, this year's sixth round pick, will likely end up on the practice squad as he learns the position.
ILB: (5) - Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Monty Beisel, Matt Stewart, Ali Highsmith
I'll stick with the same five that I picked last time. Highsmith had a great first game and if he can keep it up, they'll have to find a place for him. David Holloway is the odd man out, but I don't think they'll even be a spot for him on the practice squad.
CBs: (5) - Roderick Hood, Eric Green, DRC, Matt Ware & Micheal Adams
The top three are locked in and Ware is versatile enough that he'll be in the fold. Adams beats out Ralph Brown, even though Brown is more experienced and Adams is vastly undersized. Undrafted rookie, Marcus Brown will fill out the practice squad because his size and athleticism is just to much to let walk away.
FS/SS: (4) - Adrian Wilson, Antrel Rolle, Aaron Francisco & Oliver Celestin
I'll again stick to the same four and Ware can play safety in a pinch. The interesting scenario will be when the defenses switches to the dime. The defense has been experimenting with a package that includes Rolle as a corner, A-Dub as a linebacker and Francisco and Ware as the deep safeties. Dennis Keyes is intriguing but he's still got some work to do if he wants a spot on the practice squad.
Specialists: (3) - Neil Rackers, Dirk Johnson & Nathan Hodel
Dirk will have to play better than he did against the Saints or they'll be bring in a second punter but for now, these are the only three choices.
Well there's my 53, as of today, but I'm sure it'll change about a hundred times between now and the end of the month. So what do you think? How would you tweak it and do you like the practice squad? Is this the roster of the 2008 NFC West Champs?