In a recent article written by Shaun Church of Bleacher Report, the author gives his take on veterans to have been put on notice this offseason for the Arizona Cardinals. I agree with most of them, however I have my own take on whom the Cardinals coaching staff and front office will be keeping a close eye on as the 2014 season approaches.
Shaun’s list includes players the likes of Ryan Lindley, Tony Jefferson, Rob Housler, Jerraud Powers, and Ted Ginn. I really think he brings up valid points for each of them, though it is my own opinion that there are a few other players more worthy of noting that are battling to keep their jobs as well.
Each year around this time, the team is assembled of 90 men, who are all battle tested, as they fight to make that final 53-man roster to begin the regular season. All players will have to step up their game if they want to remain in Cardinal red, due in large part to other players coming in trying to take their spot, whether it is via trade, free agency, or rookie draft picks.
There are just a few positions in the lineup that may be safe for now. Players such as Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, Andre Ellington, and Patrick Peterson just to name a few, but for the most part, it is yet to be determined for many others on the OTAs (organized team activities) roster.
There are a number of veteran players to keep an eye on as the offseason workouts continue, so without further ado, let us look at my list of the most notable players who may not make the cut when the final roster takes shape.
Tight End Rob Housler
Undoubtedly the most scrutinized of all veterans fighting for a roster spot, Housler will be the one to keep a closer eye on. Housler is a product of the old regime under former Cardinals and current Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. The struggling tight end is entering his fourth season and has something to prove. Although last season was really make-it-or-break-it for the tight end, he could very well be hanging on by a thread only for depth purposes to the roster.
He could very well be a victim of a draft pick, as head coach Bruce Arians finally selected his own tight end in Troy Niklas. Despite Niklas recovering from offseason surgery, his second-round draft status should earn him a lot of playing time, and the Cardinals should then be able to part ways with the underachieving Housler.
Cornerback Jerraud Powers
Powers came from the Indianapolis Colts, where Arians served as offensive coordinator/interim head coach in 2012. It is common for coaches to bring players over to their new teams with whom they are most familiar. Powers -- though very talented -- developed a bad reputation in Indy for being injury prone. Arians still must have believed in him enough to make him the starter alongside Peterson.
However, when Antonio Cromartie became available via free agency, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim could not wait to sign the veteran, star corner to a one-year deal. Cromartie is the clear-cut choice as the No. 2 man this season, which puts Powers in a pickle. With Tyrann Mathieu as the clear-cut nickelback, that could put Powers at the dimeback position, which will not allow him much playing time -- at least not with the starting defense.
There are three key elements as to why Powers is unlikely to remain on the roster. One being money purposes, another being statistics given up, and thirdly, having to do with other players on the roster such as Justin Bethel better suited for the position at dimeback.
Quarterback Ryan Lindley
A former sixth-round pick in 2012 (another Whisenhunt prodigy), it was a surprise that Arians kept Lindley on the roster when he was hired as the new coach. But that could have been a result of just not a whole lot of other depth guys out there that fit what Arians was looking for.
He may have found his man this offseason, as former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas was selected by the Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Thomas was projected by most to convert to tight end because of his 6’6" 250-pound frame, which is the typical stature for tight ends in today’s NFL, but Logan also has a cannon for an arm and possesses all the intangibles that coach Arians wants in a quarterback -- like a Ben Roethlisberger, whom Arians coached with the Steelers.
This does not bode well for the third-string Lindley, and such as the above mentioned article suggests, Lindley could be on his way out the door regardless of his performance.
Kicker Jay Feely
The 38-year-old Kicker has a great and powerful leg and all, but he certainly has had some accuracy issues over the last couple of years. Feely has won his share of ball games, but he has also cost the Cardinals a victory here and there.
Last season, the Cardinals brought in another veteran kicker in Dan Carpenter to perhaps challenge Feely for the kicker positon. However, the team released Carpenter after only one preseason game in which he only attempted one field goal and missed. Feely seemed to get the message finishing the season with 30 field goals made out of 36 attempts -- an 83.3 conversion rate -- and a season long of 52 yards.
His career-long 61-yarder came the year prior in a game against the Buffalo Bills, but he missed a 38-yarder that could have sealed a victory for the Cardinals. Instead, the Bills were the ones victorious, as they won the game in overtime on a field goal from kicker Ryan Lindell.
This year the Cardinals brought in two kickers, and Feely now finds himself in a potential three-way battle, or this is just another attempt to light another fire under his leg. Two-year veteran Danny Hrapmann was signed, as well as 2014 undrafted free agent rookie Chandler Catanzaro. But Feely, a 14-year pro, does not want to hang it up just yet and intends to win the gig, according to Kyle Odegard of azcardinals.com.
The 2013 Walter Peyton Award winner is no fool. He knows there is clearly a competition taking place. It perhaps is a sign that maybe the Cardinals just want to head in a different direction starting in 2014.
Linebacker Kevin Minter
Minter is unquestionably the one player who has the biggest shoes to fill this season. The second-year pro plays the position on defense that saw the one of the best linebacker duos in the league last season. He will have to fill the void of the on-field production and leadership that Karlos Dansby took to Cleveland with him. In addition, we all know what happened to Daryl Washington recently, as the NFL suspended him for the entire 2014 season.
Washington, as we all know, received a third strike violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Not to mention what the league could do regarding his assault charge on his ex-girlfriend. Therefore, there is no telling how long he will be out, let alone if he will be a member of the Cardinals by then. Nonetheless, Minter has a chip on his shoulder, as he will be the next man up in the wake of all that mess.
Now that we unveiled the five players that I think will be under the microscope for the Cardinals this offseason, I ask you this question: Do you agree? Is there anybody else that you would perhaps substitute for any of the above-mentioned veterans?
Guys like Feely, Housler and a couple other of these players are definitely on watch considering they have failed multiple times in clutch situations. That is something that coach Arians and staff will no longer tolerate, as their team could be in the hunt to compete for a playoff spot in 2014, and more importantly be in the running for a championship.