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.
LaRod 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.
Chris 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.
Early 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.
Michael 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?