It may only be pre-season, and the Cardinals might have lost in lethargic fashion, but hey, at least its football. I'm not even going to touch on the quarterback controversy that I'm sure will continue to be debated ad nauseum here an Revenge of the Birds for the next month or six. Instead, I'll be focusing on a few position battles and players who may have helped, or hurt, their chances to rise through the depth chart. So without further delay I present my observations from the pre-season loss to the Chiefs.
Wide Receiver 2: What should come to no shock to all you faithful Revenge of the Bird members is that Mr. Larry Fitzgerald is, and will be, the number one wide receiver in the Cardinals offence now and for the foreseeable future. What does hang in the balance is who will be lining up wide on the other side of our offence.
Given Whisenhunt's propensity to avoid starting rookies, it would appear as though the number two wide receiver job will either go to Andre Roberts or Early Doucet, at least to begin the season. I might even further guess that the winner of the second wide receiver position could be dependent on whether Kevin Kolb or John Skelton wins the starting quarterback job. Considering Skelton's chemistry with Roberts and Kolb's with Doucet, I wouldn't consider it too farfetched to suggest that the quarterback who wins the starting job, will take their favorite wide receiver to the top of the depth chart as well.
If not, I would say that Roberts has the inside lane over Doucet. Furthermore, MIchael Floyd hasn't yet forced Whiz's hand into putting himself into contention. I would also like to add that LaRon Byrd has impressed me, hopefully he continues to impress and maintain this level of play into the regular season.
Inside Linebacker: The strong inside linebacker position was one of the position battles I was most looking forward to watching this pre-season. Personally, I believe the Cardinals would have been well suited to grab an inside linebacker prospect during the draft, perhaps even UDFA and now Bengal LB Vontaze Burfict, but the Cardinals had other plans for their draft. In sticking with our current ILB core the front office implied their trust in last off-seasons big inside linebacker pick-up Stewart Bradley and sixth round 2011 draft pick Quan Sturdivant.
So far this pre-season, both Sturdivant and Bradley look much better. Due to his contract, some Cardinals fans were suggesting that we should release Bradley to free up some much needed (at the time) cap space, however that Cardinal's brass decided to keep him for this season. Bradley has stepped up in a big way so far; perhaps finally taking that big step into becoming a force at the inside linebacker position.
I expect that when the regular season begins, Bradley and Washington will be starting at the two inside linebacker positions, with Lenon rotating in as well. Keep in mind that Bradley does also have experience at the outside linebacker position, so he very well could be next on the depth chart at OLB behind Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield.
Cornerback: Last, but certainly not least, we will be looking at the cornerback position from Friday's game against the Chiefs. I would harbour a guess that Patrick Peterson has the number one position on the depth chart locked down, so the question arises: Who's next? Due to a strong draft and free agent period, as well as getting healthy, their are plenty of option for Whisenhunt and Horton to consider when building the depth chart.
None of the cornerbacks really stood out, in either a good or a bad way, so I wouldn't say anybody particularly helped or hurt their cause on Friday night. William Gay made a could nice plays, Michael Adams had a few good tackles, but also got beat a few times I can recall. Jamell Fleming made a few appearances on some tackles. All in all, an unspectacular day for the cornerbacks, which would keep William Gay in his current spot on the depth chart as the number two cornerback.
As far as projections for the regular season go, I would guess that Gay does retain the number two spot at the beginning of the season, however he will be on a short leash, and likely will rotate frequently with Greg Toler. I fully expect Fleming to "start" as a nickel DB week one, and depending on how he progresses, Whiz will work him outside more as well.