With half of the preseason behind us and just one more week in Flagstaff, the Cardinals coaching staff doesn't have much more time to make decisions concerning position battles. This weeks game is often considered the 'dress rehearsal' for starters and most of them will play into the second half meaning that playing time for those further down the depth chart will be limited. This will also be the final week of practice and game for a handful of players because teams must cut their roster down to 75 players next week (Aug 26th). Here's how the position battles are shaping up heading into the final week of training camp:
Quarterback: Before last week, I probably wouldn't even have listed this as a battle and I'm still not convinced that it is a legitimate competition, but last week put it back on the radar screen. Warner and Leinart looked awful close in terms of performance Saturday night, but if I had to give an edge to one guy it would probably be Warner. Leinart looked very sharp in the first game and if he continues to perform he should be the starter on September 7th. It'll be very interesting to see who takes the field first this week and how long they play. If one guy plays the entire first half or a little more then the battle is over, but if they both play in the first half, that's an indication that the coaching staff is still undecided.
Fullback: Terrelle Smith started the first preseason game and had a couple of very good plays including a nice catch and run. Tim Castille started the second game and also had a couple of good plays including a touchdown reception. It's possible that both could make the final 53, but teams don't normally carry two fullbacks. Smith is the better blocker but Castille is younger, cheaper and more versatile. Just like with the quarterbacks, keep an eye on who starts this week and how long they play.
3rd Wide Receiver: Steve Breaston has grabbed a hold of this job and he doesn't look like he'll relinquish it anytime soon. He hasn't had much competition because Doucet has been out with a hamstring injury but Breaston has looked explosive and elusive out of the slot and could end up being the perfect compliment to Fitz and Q.
Free Safety: We weren't sure how much competition there would be between Rolle and Francisco, but it looks like the Rolle is entrenched as the starter. Francisco will get on the field quite a bit though in nickel and dime situations. Instead of bringing in a nickel back the Cardinals are going to bring in Francisco and move Rolle into the third corner position. DRC's development throughout the season could change that but for now Rolle and Fransisco will each see significant playing time.
Outside Linebacker: Before Saturday's game, this didn't really register as a competition and truth be told both Bertrand Berry and Travis LaBoy will see plenty of snaps regardless of who starts. LaBoy made a case for himself on Saturday though with six tackles and two sacks. Berry doesn't have much to show for in the preseason yet but his playing time has been pretty limited. LaBoy is still learning the position but if he can continue to rush the passer like he did Saturday, they'll have to find a way to get him on the field early and often.
That's just about every position battle that I can think of but did I miss any? How do you see these playing out and how will they impact the Cardinals in 2008?