ROTB Roundtable: 53 Man Roster, Week One Keys, and St. Louis Obstacles

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Football is almost here!

This off-season may have seemed to drag along at times, but finally, after all the waiting, the regular season is now just four days away.

In the meantime, the ROTB Writing Staff tackles three questions surrounding the team. Don't forget to answer them yourself in the comments below!

1) What is your reaction to the final 53 man roster?  Were you surprised by any of the final cuts?

Jesse Reynolds: Our roster leaves me with mixed feelings.  To see Tony Jefferson and Jaron Brown on the roster is exciting because they deserved it with their play this preseason.  Jefferson looks like he could be a stud but I'll remain cautiously optimistic after watching David Carter flame out this year.  Speaking of Carter, it was disappointing to see him cut, not because he should be on the roster but because of how much he struggled after having a strong rookie campaign.  I was hoping he was our replacement for Darnell Dockett who is on the downside of his career.  It was also disappointing to see Walker go but I could see how why was cut as the depth ahead of him made him expendable.  We will miss his special teams play and ability to play in coverage as Jasper Brinkley looks terrible in space and with Daryl Washington out I feel like Karlos Dansby and Co. could get exposed.  Also only seeing four WRs on the roster worries me.  I can see Housler being used as the 4th WR with Brown as the 5th and Patrick Peterson being used when needed but an injury to the "big three' could really hurt the team.  Also, I am opposed to five RBs in a one back system but I know why they are doing it.  I know Arians has said it is a position of strength on the team but to me it looks like they are keeping five backs because two of the backs are injury risks so the team needs the added depth when one of them goes down.  With both Rashard Mendenhall andRyan Williams running on bad knees I wonder how long either of them will last.  Finally, besides Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, and Rashad Johnson I find our secondary to be lacking and maybe that is why they kept almost everybody.  Hopefully clever scheming covers up our weaknesses in the secondary but that is another topic I have concern...

Shaun Church:
The roster is pretty much how I expected it to be coming out of training camp.  I have been saying Tony Jefferson will make the roster since the Cardinals picked him up as an undrafted free agent, so the fact that he made the team is no surprise to me.  I did not expect the team to release defensive lineman David Carter, and that's a testament to both Carter's ineffectiveness and Ronald Talley's play all preseason and the work he put in during camp.

Cdeveau:
I was surprised by a few cuts.  ILB Reggie Walker springs to mind.  Only keeping 4 WRs also stands out as well as 10 OL spots.

Robert Norman:
I like the fact that the roster is unbalanced only because it's evidence that Arians is actually keeping the best 53 players.  I was surprised seeing Padric Scott and Reggie Walker cut.  Both did well in the off-season by most reports.  I personally thought Walker might be able to earn the starting ILB job during Washington's suspension, though that was before the team drafted Kevin Minter and signed Karlos Dansby, but he was lways a great special teams player.

D.L. Parsons:
I was surprised by Reggie Walker's cut.  I was more surprised by the four TEs that were kept.  There are several good TEs on the street right now (Gronkowski and Ballard, to name two) that would fit well into Arian's scheme.

Alex Mann:
Offensively, Rashard Mendenhall.  If we can run hard, the Rams will have to relax in their blitzing and worry about the run, something they didn't have to worry about at all last year.  Defensively, whoever is the guy to cover Tavon Austin.  I would personally line up Mathieu against him, just because in College their match ups were fun to watch, and Mathieu has the speed to keep up with him.

Jess Root:
As is documented on the podcast and several comments, I was surprised that Jonathon Amaya was cut.  I never said that Tony Jefferson didn't deserve to be on the team, but that his deficiency on special teams would leave him on the outside.  I was also surprised that Kerry Taylor was cut, but that was mainly because I was shocked they kept only four receivers.  The other guy was Reggie Walker.  I thought they would keep him at least until Daryl Washington returned.  Of course, that could have been a money move, as contracts are guaranteed for the year once Week 1 is complete.  Cutting a rookie is less to eat in salary.

2) Who, or what, will be key for the Cardinals if the team hopes to win the opener against St. Louis?


Jesse Reynolds:
I believe two things are the keys to victory for the Cardinals.  The first priority is pretty obvious in that the Cardinals must protect Carson Palmer.  St. Louis has a phenomenal front four that even the 49ers with their "best offensive line in football" struggled with.  I believe the Cardinals are going to have to play conservative to beat the Rams as our line could get exposed with out lots of TE/RB help.  Palmer will help by stepping into the pocket instead of running around like a chicken with his head cut off (a la Kevin Kolb) but he is going to need the center and guards to play extremely well for him to have a pocket to step into.  Second is the Cardinals CBs making plays on an island as the Cardinals safeties will have to focus on the underrated tandem of Lance Kendricks and Jared Cook.  I think the play of the Cardinals LBs and safeties will be more important for the victory but the pressure will be on the CBs to perform as the Rams WR core, while young and relatively inexperienced, is as a team very fast.  The Cardinals DBs have to play sound and not make mistakes as a broken tackle could lead to huge plays for the Rams.

Shaun Church:
The key to winning will be stopping the defensive line of the Rams.  I'll have more on this Friday, but last season, the offensive line allowed an absurd amount of sacks and pressures in the two games against St. Louis.

Cdeveau:
The run game is going to be the prominent factor the Cards hopes rest on for a victory.  If the Cards can't establish a run game, then I don't see the passing game possibilities being present.

Robert Norman:
Rashard Mendenhall.  The Arizona Cardinals need a running game and Arians prefers using one running back for the majority of carries.  He's on a one year deal with four running backs behind him.  The team showed the ability to at least get 100 yards in the last preseason.

D.L. Parsons:
The deep passing game.  STL is vulnerable deep, with a rookie safety and a short-term veteran standing between Fitz and the end zone.

Alex Mann:
Offensively, Rashard Mendenhall. If we can run hard, the Rams will have to relax in their blitzing and worry about the run, something they didn't have to worry about at all last year. Defensively, whoever is the guy to cover Tavon Austin. I would personally line up Mathieu against him, just because in College their match ups were fun to watch, and Mathieu has the speed to keep up with him.

Jess Root:
As it is with most games, the Cards have to win the turnover battle. The offense should be good enough to capitalize, unlike last year. After that, the offense simply has to be okay if the defense is taking the ball away.

3) Which player on the Rams do you think will be the biggest thorn in the Cardinals side on Sunday?


Jesse Reynolds:
Chris Long.  I can already hear "False start #75 and holding #75" as Long gives Levi Brown fits.  If Brown can have a strong game against Long I think the Cardinals will be able to carve up the Rams secondary.  The Rams CBs Courtland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins are both very physical CBs, but they are going against very big WRs in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd and won't be able to push these guys around like they did to other teams WRs last year.  When Kolb wasn't getting sacked he actually had a good game against the Rams throwing for almost 300 yards with Fitzgerald catching eight balls on 15 targets for 92 yards.  You can't count on last year but I believe the Cardinals WRs are much better as a group this year and will be tough to defend for pretty much every team in the NFL besides Seattle.  Again, this all depends on Palmer having time to throw which is a big if.

Shaun Church:
This is close for me.  Defensive end Chris Long should have a good day facing Levi Brown, but tight end Jared Cook could have a big day as well.  These two also will be in my Friday column, so I'll hold off until then.

Cdeveau:
Robert Quinn. Why? Because he is a pass rushing DE lined up across from Levi "BA says I'm elite, and for a Matador I am" Brown. Seeing this on paper, Quinn could have a field day.

Robert Norman:
Robert Quinn.  Last year when the Cards and Rams first played, Quinn had 3 sacks and a forced fumble.  The media has been raving over the Rams' offense because of the additions of Tavon Austin.  Frankly, all their weapons are unknowns.  The defense was 31st in passing defense in the 2013 preseason.  The Cardinals have a chance to tear apart the Rams defense, but only if they stop players like Quinn.

D.L. Parsons:
There isn't just one.  R. Quinn and C. Long had double digit sacks last season, and they had a particularly good time vs. the Cards last year.  If the new Cards O-line can keep Palmer upright long enough for him to launch the vertical passing attack, that may be enough to win.  Quinn and Long will be matched up with Winston and Levi Brown.  I think Winston will handle his matchup.  Brown?  I want to believe...

Alex Mann:
Robert Quinn and Chris Long are likely the two players that will cause some issues. Granted our O-Line is shored up, but Quinn will destroy Brown much of the game if he takes Quinn on alone for a lot of the game.

Jess Root:
On offense, it will be Jared Cook. He is a matchup nightmare and without Washington, life will be difficult. Defensively, the pass rushers will be the guys to watch.

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