With training camp in the rear view mirror and the Arizona Cardinals focusing on preseason contest #2 against the Chargers, it's about time to update our 'stock up' and 'stock down' lists. Most of the movement will be based on the performances from the previous game against the Steelers, but the past week of practice will carry some weight as well.
Last week we focused only on the guys that we termed 'bubble' players but this week we'll open it up to the entire roster in order to get a better idea of how some players are impressing or disappointing.
LaRod Stephens-Howling: The little man from Pitt continues to impress and word out of camp is that he may have leapfrogged Jason Wright and moved into the third spot on the depth chart. LSH looked minuscule at times trying to pick up opposing blitzers but he's working to improve and he's certainly got some wiggle with the ball in his hands. He'll get an even bigger role on Saturday considering that he'll get a shot as a kick returner so we'll get to see how he operates in space. Another solid showing could move secure him a roster spot.
Michael Adams: It's crazy to think that two 5-7 players stole the show in the Cards preseason opener but that's exactly what LSH and Adams did on Thursday. Adams played quite bit once the backups came in and despite his obvious lack of size his heart and desire are on display every time he steps on the field. He got burned deep once on a jump ball against a receiver who had half a foot on him but Adams has the fearless type of attitude that coaches crave on special teams and as long as he continues to perform like that, he'll make this team.
Calais Campbell: Moving from the little people to the giants, Campbell was a beast against the Steelers starting left tackle. He was stout against the run and got into Ben's face on more than one occasion. One solid preseason performance won't replace Antonio Smith but his first game action went a long way to easing some people's concerns.
Herman Johnson: Speaking of another giant, Johnson performed about as well as you could expect from a rookie drafted in the fifth round. He struggled a couple of times with speed rushers and had some miscommunication on one play, but overall he flashed the potential that the Cardinals saw when they drafted him. Of course we have to mention that he also made a highly athletic play tackling a corner back in the open field.
Greg Toler: The amazing athletic but very raw corner from St. Paul's College, played pretty well for his first exposure to the NFL. It's pretty clear that he still relies more on his athleticism than a sound understanding of opposing offenses and instincts but he made some plays against the second and third string that offer some hope that he possesses the ability to become a future starter. Consistency is most important, and hardest, aspect for a young player to master so we'll see if he can continue his impressive play.
Tyler Palko: It's almost hard to believe that an 8 for 15 performance with a touchdown and an interception against the 3rd and 4th string defense could make a guy so popular but Palko was awful impressive against the Steelers. His escapability and unwillingness to give up on a play were admirable and his arm looked better than advertised. Palko is still a long shot, at best, to make the roster but he's showcasing himself for 31 other NFL teams and if he continues to play like he did against the Steelers, he'll end up on someone's roster.
Orea Jones and Lance Long: Both Jones and Long are buried on the depth chart on a team stacked with the league's best wide receivers but that didn't stop them from playing an impressive game. Both made some decent receptions and showed some ability to pick up yards after the catch. They will have to continue to impress throughout the preseason but if they can duplicate their performance against the Steelers, I wouldn't be surprised if one or both found their way onto someone's roster this season.
Leonard Pope: After impressing some people early in camp Pope did anything but that in the preseason opener and he's returned to his inconsistent ways this week of camp. Many thought that he short-armed a ball against the Steelers to avoid a hit and he's dropped a couple of easy passes this week in practice. With so much competition at tight end, Pope must improve or he could find himself on the outside looking in when the final cut comes down.
Cody Brown: Brown played at least two full quarters and part of a third but had very little impact on the game, even though he was facing the second string and third string of the Steelers offensive line. He was noticeable a couple of times in coverage but considering that his pass ability is his strength right now, there are was hope that he'd be able to pressure the QB. He'll certainly get plenty of playing time again Saturday and he's not in danger or being cut, but at least for one night he was outperformed by his fellow sixth round draftee, OLB Will Davis.
Brian St. Pierre: We all know that BSP looked terrible on Thursday but Whiz acknowledged that he didn't have much help. BSP will be the second QB to take the field and if he's put in the same situation as Leinart, that means he'll take some snaps with the first string. Of course that also means that he won't be able to hide behind any more excuses. If he wants a legit shot at the backup QB job, it's a "now or never" scenario.
Alan Branch: I hate to keep beating a dead horse so I'll be short. Branch continues to underwhelm and nothing that he showed against the Steelers makes you think that he's turned the corner and is on the verge of dropping the underachiever label. He probably won't be cut but the note that he'll get some snaps at defensive end isn't exactly encouraging news.
Levi Brown: Coming into his third season there was some hope that we'd see a much improved player on the verge of a breakout year but one preseason game into the 2009 season, Brown looked like the same guy. Granted there will be about 16 tackles that struggle with LaMarr Woodley with season but you'd hope that Brown could go two series without giving up a sack.
Who else was impressive or disappointing and who has the best chance to make this list next week?