Our pre-training camp roster projections are winding down and we're down to the men that line up in the Arizona Cardinals backfield. First we'll take a look at the running backs, a group that will hopefully develop into a potent two headed monster, but in a worst case scenario should be comparable to last year's group. One aspect that is unique at the running back position when compared to any other unit on this roster is that it experienced quite a bit of turnover in the past twelve months. The Cardinals cut thier leading rusher and watched the third leading rusher limp into free agency with a bum knee. In response they added a free agent young running back with some upside and used their first round selection to grab another back, but who will make the final 53?
Chris "Beanie" Wells, Tim Hightower, Jason Wright
On the Bubble
There are no real surprises here simply because the top three on the depth chart are pretty well locked in, although the order of the top two can be debated. If LaRod Stephens-Howling does make the final roster, it'll most likely be as a kick returner. As far as I know Chris Vincent is still eligible for the practice squad because I don't think he's ever really stuck on the squad, and of course LSH is eligible. It's also worth mentioning that the roster on NFL.com lists Justin Green as a running back but he's really a fullback so we'll cover him in the next episode.
LaRod Stephens-Howling: As we said above, barring some kind of injury to one of the top three back during camp LSH's best chance of making the roster will be as a special teamer, primarily as a kick returner. He has some potential to develop into a third down back who can create some noise out of the backfield but he's not ready to assume that role quite yet. The most important part of that third down role is knowing and understanding pass proection and he won't be able to digest all of that as a rookie. If he doesn't win the returner sport, the Cardinals shouldn't have any problem stashing him on the practice squad for a season.
Chris Vincent: Vincent has some appeal to this coaching staff that most of us don't understand. He's a good sized back with decent athleticism but he was basically just a special teams player in college and has never shown enough to even stick on a practice squad. The Cardinals cut him twice during camp last and his 43 rushing yards in a preseason game against the Raiders was more yards than he had his entire senior season at Oregon. It would take an amazing camp/preseason for Vincent to stick on the practice squad considering he'll turn 28 before the season starts but you've got to wonder why the staff keeps bringing him back.
Despite the turnover this is a pretty easy position to sort out and LSH is the only wild card, but as we said his roster spot shouldn't really count against the backs. So where do you see LSH ending up this season and will there be any other surprises?