The Arizona Cardinals are fortunate enough to feature one of the best safeties in the game in Adrian Wilson, and they recently added another stud in Kerry Rhodes this offseason. Wilson has manned the ship of the Cardinals' defense longer than any other player, and nothing changes in 2010. He's to Cardinals' fans what Ray Lewis is to Ravens' fans - a stalwart in the secondary, and a man among men. It's clear that safety may be the most talented group on the entire team.
Adrian Wilson: Wilson experienced one of his best years in 2010 when he was added to the Pro Bowl and All Pro teams. He piled up 76 tackles, with 2 sacks, 5 interceptions, and 13 passes defensed (career high) last season. Wilson is the epitome of a leader on defense and has the commitment to the weight room that makes him an absolute beast on the football field. The Cardinals use his aggressive style to defend against the run, and his ability to sniff out the ball carrier that usually finds him at the end of a turnover or sack.
Kerry Rhodes: After the Cardinals lost Antrel Rolle to the free agency bug, they immediately pursued Kerry Rhodes from the New York Jets. In return for draft picks, they acquired Rhodes and calmed the storm at was arising in the desert from Cardinals' fans. Rhodes' credentials are equal to, if not better than Rolle's. He's a former Pro Bowl alternate that has grabbed 15 interceptions and nine sacks in his five-year career. He can be the hard hitter and can also showcase his finesse side in coverage. Although he didn't fit in Rex Ryan's defense last season, he's already made a commitment this offseason to be ready when the season begins.
Matt Ware: The Cardinals desperately missed Matt Ware in the secondary after he was added to the injured reserve late last season. Ware's lengthy experience at safety and cornerback make him an intricate aspect of the Cardinals' defense. He's able to play deep while Adrian Wilson roams the box, and he has the ability to defend the deep pass or the run. The Cardinals almost lost Ware this offseason, but were lucky when they re-signed the six-year veteran for at least another season.
Hamza Abdullah: Abdullah joined the team late last year after Ware was lost to injury. He didn't see much practice time and was thrown to the wolves in the playoffs when Rolle was also injured. Abdullah survived, however, and this year he's earned the opportunity to practice and work out with the team. He's said that he will be ready when 2010 rolls around, and wants to be a bigger piece of what the Cardinals do on defense. Abdullah has started in the past and also brings special teams experience to the team.
Rashad Johnson: I thought about listing Johnson as an 'on the bubble' guy, but he's only in his second year and the Cardinals are going to test the waters even more in 2010. Johnson put together a lackluster effort last season, disappointing the Cardinals' brass and fans altogether. He's still young, however, and is learning behind some of the best safeties in the game. There may be something to look forward to in Johnson, but we won't know until he's ready.
After the Cardinals released Herana-Daze Jones a week ago, that left five safeties on the team's roster. I strongly believe that all five will remain with the team when the season begins. Wilson, Rhodes, and Ware are all locks, and Abdullah and Johnson go hand-in-hand with each other. Johnson hasn't shown any promise as a high-round draft pick; therefore, keeping a seasoned vet like Abdullah provides a player with experience should a starter go down. We've finally finished our roster projections and I'll be posting the complete 53-man roster next week to summarize everything. Do you believe the Cardinals will keep five safeties and if not, who will be released?