Tonight marks the final preseason game that the Arizona Cardinals will play and, as all final preseason games go, the reserve players will likely see plenty of time on the field. Ken Whisenhunt and his staff still have plenty of decisions to make in terms of what players they want to keep on their 53-man roster.
That said, there really are not going to be many snaps for the starters in this game. It's all going to be about the bubble players and backups battling it out for a spot. Let's take a look at some of the positional battles and what we should look for after the jump.
Ryan Lindley and Richard Bartel are still in competition for the third spot. Although Lindley is starting tonight, that does not mean his roster spot is on lockdown. Bartel brings veteran experience and is an absolute gym rat. If Lindley was the guy, Bartel would no longer be on the roster.
I still expect Lindley to take the job, but he will have to earn it.
Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams and LaRod Stephens-Howling will all make the roster. After them, it comes down to William Powell and Alfonso Smith for the fourth spot. Powell has played better this preseason and many think he will be the guy, but once again, don't count out the incumbent. Smith has been through this before and knows what the coaches expect of him. Watch for each of them to run as hard as they possibly can in this tight competition.
Again, like the RBs, you have guys that are mortal locks to be on the final 53. The last spot is going to come down to guys like LaRon Byrd, Isaiah Williams and Stephen Williams (although, with his foot injury, I am not so sure). Byrd looks to have a distinctive lead right now and I doubt one game could change that, but you never know...
Jim Dray and Steve Skelton are in a heated one here. Dray, the incumbent, as always been known as a good blocker. But Skelton can run and catch some passes, so it really comes down to what type of guy the coaching staff wants to keep around. I think Skelton ends up getting the nod, but he will need to continue to show that he can be productive. That starts tonight against Denver.
Stewart Bradley vs. Paris Lenon:
I still see this as the biggest and most important battle on the team (outside of the starting QBs, that is). Left tackle all but belongs to Batiste, William Gay appears to have locked up the #2 cornerback spot and Bobby Massie is getting his shot at RT. Bradley looked very good while Lenon was out with an ankle injury, but Lenon brings a certain grittiness that the coaches may be hesitant to take off the field.
I think Lenon will begin the year as the starter, but having Bradley out there is invaluable. They will need to start him at some point this season, especially if they want to keep Lenon fresh.
What do you think? What are the biggest positional battles in your eyes? Tell us.