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Arizona Cardinals Training Camp Coverage: Stock Up, Stock Down

The Arizona Cardinals have completed about two thirds of training camp (that's right the final day is August 20th) but the preseason games are just about to begin. The Cardinals preseason opener against the Steelers is two days away and that's where the real evaluation process will begin with the guys who are buried on the depth chart. While it might be easy for some guys to perform during camp, it'll be a whole new test once the lights come on and the opponent isn't a teammate. The following four games can not only decide a players fate in 2009, it might very well make or break their career.

Before the bullets start flying for real, we figured we'd highlight some of the 'bubble' players who have either helped or hurt their stock so far during training camp. As the preseason progresses we'll update this list and use it as a tool when projecting the final 53 man roster.

Stock Up
Stock_up_mediumLaRod Stephens-Howling: One running back who has benefited from the absence of Chris Wells has been LSH. He's drawn some rave reviews for his speed and elusiveness in the open field, but the best reports we've heard have been about his willingness to run between the tackles. For a back of his size (5-7, 180) that will always be a concern but it'll be interesting to see if he can carry his success over to the actual preseason games. His best shot is still as a kick returner and he'll have to stand out in that capacity to make the final 53.

Stock_up_mediumJerheme Urban: Urban has been almost light's out during camp so far and it seems like almost a foregone conclusion that he'll not only make the roster but he'll also retain his #4 job at wide receiver. His play has not only been remarkably consistent but the chemistry that he and Kurt Warner have cultivated over the past year and a half is evident. Urban is still praised for his versatility on special teams and it seems as if only an injury can knock him out of the fourth receiver spot.

Stock_up_mediumLeonard Pope: Believe it or not Pope has been impressive during camp so far, despite being left for dead by most of us fans. Every practice seems to be highlighted by Pope streaking down the seam and making a nice catch but the best report has been the one that we haven't seen yet. Long criticized for his bone-headed nature and inability to hold his own as a blocker, Pope seems to have improved greatly in both areas and as a result, he's stayed atop the depth chart at tight end. He'll of course be tested once the preseason starts but look for Pope to be the first tight end on the field against the Steelers.

Stock_up_mediumKeilen Dykes: For Dykes this 'stock up' status hasn't been so much about what he's done as opposed to what his competition has done. Most would agree that the final defensive end spot would be a battle between Dykes and Jason Banks but a serious injury and trip to the injured reserve for Banks has all but erased that battle. That's not to say that Dykes, who showed up in great shape, hasn't been impressive during camp, but so far he's won the job by default. His battle now turns to moving up the depth chart and securing more playing time. His willingness and ability to play both nose tackle and end will help but he'll need strong showing in the preseason to leapfrog either Branch or Iwebema in the defensive line rotation.

Stock_up_mediumChris Vincent: Vincent is a guy that most of thought had no chance at making the roster but so far all he's done is impress everyone during Wells' absence. Vincent is a guy who didn't even have a position in college (mainly special teams) but the Cardinals keep bringing him back to camp as a running back and so far he's having the best camp of his career. He's showing a good burst to the outside and some toughness near the goal line. He's still a very long shot to make the final 53 but if you're watching the preseason and deep into the fourth quarter say, "wow who is #30?" you'd be looking at Chris Vincent.

Stock Down

Stock_down_mediumAnthony Becht: Becht's training camp thus far has consisted mainly of an injured hamstring that's prevented him for seeing the actual playing field very much. Becht, the team's best blocking tight end, has been a favorite of some to win the starting job at tight end but he'll have to prove that his soon to be 33 year old body can take another season of pounding. Despite those concerns Becht has been extremely durable throughout his career and Whiz has been known to take it easy on veterans in the past, but Becht will have to return the field eventually if he wants to make the cut.

Stock_down_mediumRodney Leisle: Leisle hasn't been terrible at camp by any means but he also hasn't down much to stand out thus far. For a guy not only trying to beat out a former second round pick (albeit an underachieving one) but also desperately trying to get back in the NFL, he'll have to stand out in order to secure a spot on the 53. He's got the size to contribute at both nose tackle and end so it'll be interesting to see if he's moved around the defensive line during the preseason but wherever he lines up he needs to make a difference.

Stock_down_mediumWill Davis: It's not really fair to grade Davis so early into his rookie season given the tall task of moving from defensive tackle to outside linebacker but that's the nature of the NFL. Any thought that this would be an easy transition for the former wide receiver has been erased and it's pretty clear that he's more raw talent than anything at this point. He has shown on occasion that he can beat offensive tackles off the ball with his speed but he lacks any other pass rush moves at this point and his biggest problem is in coverage, where he's completely lost at this point. He, of course, still has time and no one should have expected a quick learning curve but I'm sure if the cut down day was today, he'd be on the practice squad.

Stock_down_mediumEarly Doucet: Doucet status as a 'stock down' player is two fold. First he's obviously been injured and will miss the first preseason game but even more importantly has been the impressive showing by his competition, Jerheme Urban. Doucet hasn't been disappointing in practice by any means, in fact he made a couple leaping catches that we impressive but on a comparative basis, Urban has been much better. Many expected Doucet to have a breakout season in 2009, but to this point it's looking like another season in which he'll only see the field when some one else is injured.

Stock_down_mediumMichael Ray Garvin: Despite putting on a serious gun show every time he rolls his sleeves up, Garvin has had a rough camp in his transition to wide receiver (corner back at FSU). While no one expected the transition to be easy, he's struggled with consistency catching the ball and his route running is very raw. He's clearly not going to make this roster as a receiver meaning that he'll have to impress as a kick returner in the preseason.


Who else has impressed or disappointed you so far during camp? Who has the best chance of redeeming themselves over the next couple of weeks?