FLAGSTAFF, AZ - JULY 30: (L-R) John Skelton #19, Ben Claxton #62, Alfonso Smith #46 and D'Anthony #74 of the Arizona Cardinals arrive to the team training camp at Northern Arizona University on July 30, 2011 in Flagstaff, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Yesterday marked the first day that cuts were mandatory and teams had to shrink their rosters around the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals have been able to carry 90 players on their roster throughout the preseason, but will be going up against the Broncos on Thursday with only 80.
While some familiar names were either released or waived, the Cardinals front office will be faced with some tough decisions once Saturday rolls along. Only two days after their final preseason match-up, the team must trim the roster down to the 53 guys that they will carry into University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11th when they take on the Panthers.
The question is: who will they cut and which of the players they have could be pushed to the practice squad?
By Wednesday, the Cardinals will have to cut 5 more players, scaling their roster back to 75 players. When they cut the final 22 from the main squad, the team will end up picking eight players that will be relegated to the practice squad. Instead of me detailing all of the rules and regulations in regards to the practice squad, take a look at this post from Chris Thorman over at Arrowhead Pride. It breaks down the salary structure for practice squad players and the eligibility rules for players that can go to that group.
None of the drafted players from 2010 would be eligible for the practice squad, so let's look at some possibilities from the 2011 draft and the undrafted free agents as well. Out of the eligible drafted players, I see only one real possibility and many choices in terms of undrafted guys. Since these players have not accrued an NFL season under their belts, they can be signed to the practice squad, but the team must be wary that another organization will sign them away.
Quan Sturdivant has failed to impress the coaches during the preseason and may not make the roster as a 6th round pick. He would be a great player to keep on the practice squad, even if the Cardinals risk losing him. I feel that DeMarco Sampson and David Carter, both late round picks, will make the 53 man roster with ease.
Also, don't be surprised to see Marshay Green remain on the practice squad as well. We all saw him mess up a few times when the Cardinals played the Chargers, but with the loss of Greg Toler for the season, the Cardinals need depth at the cornerback position.
Other undrafted players to keep an eye on: DL Ricky Lumpkin, DE Ronald Talley (2nd year player), S Jared Campbell, TE Stephen Skelton and my favorite, C Kristofer O'Dowd. Due to the depth at some of the aforementioned positions, some of these players never really had a chance to make the final cuts. Tight ends are now fully in stock, there are plenty of wide receivers ahead of guys like Sean Jeffcoat and Lyle Sendlein and Ben Claxton already occupy the center position in front of O'Dowd.
These are some of the players that I think could have a shot at making the practice squad due to their performances and/or potential. Anyone I missed Cardinals fans? Is there someone else you think should make the practice squad? Let it be known in the comments section below.