Roundtable: O-line, Offense, and RB's

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One more preseason game left before the real ones start.

In the meantime, the ROTB Writing Staff takes their shot at answering three questions surrounding the franchise.

Don't forget to answer the questions yourself in the comments below!

1) In your opinion, what would be the ideal plan moving forward from the disastrous Jonathan Cooper injury?

Jesse Reynolds: Right now the team's plan looks the best, move Colledge back to LEG and start Fanaika at RG.  This should work until Cooper returns and I expect him to return sooner than later.

In the meanwhile, why don't we give Massie a look at lT?  Both Brown and Potter have struggled while Winston has solidified his spot.  Massie improved last season and was best player on the line last year, why not try him out?

Shaun Church: I suggested shortly after the Cooper injury that Daryn Colledge should move back to left guard and Paul Fanaika start at right guard, and that's just what Bruce Arians will do.  It just makes sense, with Colledge having started 80 regular-season games there since 2008.  Plus, Fanaika has looked solid at guard this far, so why not?

AndyStandsUp: You have to like the idea of placing Colledge back at LG and playing Fainaka at Right.  I just don't have confidence in Kelemete, Rachal or Watford to make the starting lineup.  That being said, injuries are part and parcel in the NFL and it has to be "next man up".

Khodder: Personally I would sit him for the year.  I don't think he has much if anything to gain from playing in 3-5 games at the end of the season.  I think it is best to slow play an injury like this to a young guy like Cooper who should be a lynchpin for the offensive line for a decade.  Let the leg heal.  Move through rehab slowly, make sure everything is 110% before moving onto the next stage and be ready and rearing to go for the start of OTA's next season.  It is not worth any possible long term harm to get whatever little short term gains Cooper can make or provide.

Jess Root: Ideally he never would have gotten hurt. However, that is not the reality. It makes sense for Colledge to move back to his natural position. Fanaika has been doing great. Let us hope it continues. He may struggle against quicker interior guys. As for Rachal, I would have been fine with him. I don't see him as any worse than Fanaika. Rachal has at least been a starter in the league.

Alex Mann: I want him to sit and rest up before he sees the field again. But at the same time... He means a lot to this organization in the short time he's been here. He is the key player on that Offensive Line, so I want him to play sometime this year. In the end though, It will all come down to how comfortable he and Coach Arians, feel about him playing on that leg. He'll likely go on the IR-Designated to Return list, and after that if he's behind schedule in rehab, send him to the IR list and he'll be ready to go in 2014.

2) Is the offense's stagnation in the last few games a concern to you at all?

Jesse Reynolds: Yes, but I do not believe the situation is dire. Arians is big on scheming and I think that will help Palmer. Right now Palmer doesn't look comfortable and isn't getting through his reads well, especially in the red zone. However I do think the Cardinals WR core is as good as advertised and could help Palmer to a big year.

Shaun Church: Offensive struggles in the preseason?  I suppose there should be some concern, but I'm not nearly as worried this August as I was the past three Augusts.  The elements are there for the offensive to be a top unit in the NFL.  Practice makes perfect, and the offense is still in its infancy in terms of learning Arians' system.

AndyStandsUp: In accordance with what Seth said on the latest ROTB podcast, Carson Palmer is still not in sync with the receivers, despite the elongated off season he spent with them in SD and Minnesota.  Liked the running game versus the Chargers in what is their defense's supposed strength.  Mixed bag, but it's still preseason.

Khodder: It has to be a concern, the offense, while improved from last season in terms of actually moving the football and having a QB who can throw an accurate pass is still only putting up 12 points per game so far this preseason, that is a mark lower than what the offense provided last season. Obviously it is just the preseason and there is still rust and the scheme have not been all that adventurous, but the thing that really has me worried is the team struggling to have success scoring points against teams 2nd string defenses which we saw against both Dallas and San Diego.

Over time the offense should improve as Palmer and his receivers become more and more comfortable with each other, but as it stands we are seeing some ugly plays where the QB and his receiver are clearly not on the same page, we are seeing Palmer force the ball into windows that are not there to players who are well covered. Completing 52% of your passes is not going to cut it in the NFL for long.

Most know that I never had the highest of expectations for this offense and certainly not as high as some other people, but right now this offense is falling short of even my most pessimistic of expectations, and that has to worry you.

Jess Root: On a scale from 1-10, it registers a six. I am concerned, but also understand that the offense works on timing and that is still being worked out. The fact that the offense moved the ball well between the 20s is a good start. Then to see the team come out after halftime against San Diego and move the ball, overcome the adversity of Cooper's injury and score in the red zone, that was good. That was actually very important to see, in my opinion.

Alex Mann: No. I think that how much Arians and the entirety of the players have been talking up the offense has given us a sense of... Over confidence in our offense. There's no denying this unit is 100 times better than last years unit in term of O-Line and Running game, but we all set our expectations a little too high at this point in the year.

3) Do you think the Cardinals should be shopping Ryan Williams, or hold on to him?  What do you think the RB depth chart will end up looking like?

Jesse Reynolds: It all depends on Denver. If Williams runs well I think should keep him, if he doesn't run well than cut him. I doubt anyone will trade for him if he doesn't perform well. I'm against more than 4 RBs on the team when there is greater need elsewhere on the roster for depth.

Shaun Church: No, I don't believe Ryan Williams should be shopped right now.  He may have been in hot water with his coach -- and with most of Arizona -- for missing two weeks of camp, but the fact is that the kid can play.  We haven't seen much of that in two seasons, but if healthy, Williams has the potential to be something special (we know what Arians says about potential, right?).

Williams has a lot of proving to do and trust to earn.  Staying healthy is his No. 1 concern right now; everything else will fall into place for him if he's able to do that.

It's possible they keep five backs on the roster.  I'm not sure that's a good idea though, and if it comes down to Williams or a guy like Andre Ellington, I'd take Williams.  The chances that Ellington ends up on the practice squad is probably slim, as he likely would be claimed by a needy team.  But Williams' ability and upside if healthy is too much to let go.

AndyStandsUp: Like Benjamin pointed out on the podcast, Williams is still under rookie contract.  Cost will not be an issue if Keim/Arians wants to keep a roster spot open for even a fifth RB, if so desired.  I still see Ellington hitting the Practice Squad and a move after the last cuts for another RB.  If he gets injured then the Cards cut an I/R settlement with him, no big deal.  Just parted way with $110,000 for Carpenter a few days ago, so what's the big deal between friends who have cash to burn? (And where are they when I need them?)

Khodder: It all really has to do with the makeup of the roster. I still maintain that Ryan is the most talented runner that this team has on the roster, but he struggles to stay healthy, does not play on special teams and is not great in pass pro. To keep a 5th RB they are likely going to have to play a fair chunk on ST's (Though Williams could get away with this given that Smith, Taylor and Ellington should all have an impact in this area) and they are likely going to be a COP back who is going to be able to provide a triple threat on 3rd downs of runner/receiver/protector.

Given those limitations to his game and the fact that Arians tends to lean on one runner (Mendenhall) I don't see a huge amount of value in hanging onto Williams unless there is absolutely nobody who piques your interest in free agency across the roster and you have a spare roster spot just to hand out. I don't think his future in Arizona is very bright at all.

In the end I think we see a fluid depth chart behind Mendenhall who will be the unquestioned starter. Taylor will likely see a many of his snaps come on 3rd downs, spelling Mendenhall, while also possibly seeing time at FB. Smith will probably be an early down sub as a runner to give Mendenhall a rest if he needs one. Ellington will be #4 on the depth chart and should be the top kick return man.

Jess Root: I think the depth chart is pretty clear. It will be Mendenhall, then a mix of Smith, Taylor and Ellington. As much as I love Williams as a fan, keeping him doesn't make sense. Trade him for something -- it can be as much as what they got for A.J. Jefferson -- swapping up a round in the draft (although the team essentially turned Jefferson into Carson Palmer -- not a bad deal). If Williams is not going to be number two, then he is wasting a spot. Bruce Arians already has shown that he is comfortable with Alfonso Smith. Williams doesn't play on special teams. The guy at the back of the depth chart has to. So...Williams has to be traded or cut. If Mendenhall goes down, Arians trusts the other three backs, so if you needed a fourth back for depth purposes, you really can find literally anybody that can come in and do that for cheap and play on special teams.

Alex Mann: I think he should be put on the ledge between kept and cut. Unless he performs spectacularly and comes away from the Denver game tomorrow feeling excellent, there will be no buyers in the Ryan Williams sweepstakes. Now when the final cuts come, he'll likely be on the roster, but depending upon who's on the wires and who hit FA, I'd expect Williams and Smith to be sitting on the edge of their seats hoping someone better doesn't come out.

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