Training camp officially begins today with the conditioning test. The offseason is over.
Since we have finished previewing the position groups, going over who is in camp, who are likely locks, what the positional battles are and what questions are lingering.
How will camp play out? These are my roster projections.
QB (3): Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas
This was the easiest position.
RB (4): Andre Ellington, Jonathan Dwyer, Stepfan Taylor, Robert Hughes
Another easy position. I don't think any of the undrafted kids will do anything quite well enough to beat out Hughes, who does a lot of things decently.
WR (6): Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn, John Brown, Walt Powell, Jaron Brown
Here, I had to decide on the number. My initial number was five and I had Powell beating out Brown. They will both be pretty even, but having invested a draft pick in Powell, he would get the edge. After I was left with three open spots, I added Jaron Brown, as he would be a good guy to have in the case of injury and because he was solid on special teams.
TE (4): John Carlson, Jake Ballard, Troy Niklas, Rob Housler
These four were a no-brainer, really. Say what you want, Housler is still valuable. Carlson's injury history is dicey and neither Darren Fells nor Andre Hardy have done enough to think they could contribute. And before you say Housler is awful, he had as many receptions as Andre Ellington and the same YPC as Larry Fitzgerald.
OL (8): Jared Veldheer, Jonathan Cooper, Lyle Sendlein, Paul Fanaika, Bobby Massie, Ted Larsen, Nate Potter, Bradley Sowell
You'll want an explanation here. Why isn't Earl Watford the starter or even on the roster? Well, I get the feeling that Fanaika will win the job. Bruce Arians likes him and we just haven't seen anything out of Watford other than what he looks like physically. I think Massie easily keeps the right tackle job. So rather than keeping Watford, I see flexibility on the bench. Sowell and Potter both play tackle and guard and Larsen plays guard and center. I like the thought of Anthony Steen, but think that a veteran in Larsen on the bench would be more valuable. Steen will end on the practice squad or on injured reserve to stash him a year. Watford could also be added to the practice squad.
DL (6): Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams, Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker, Kareem Martin, Ed Stinson
First of all, I put Alameda Ta'amu on PUP. I think it will end up being that way. He's a bug guy and requires a lot of leverage. These six linemen would be here regardless, so rushing the big guy doesn't make sense. They kept six linemen last season and only played five, so they aren't hurting for linemen. Williams can play the 25 snaps a game in base defenses and both Stinson and Rucker can play a few snaps at nose.
LB (9): John Abraham, Larry Foote, Kevin Minter, Matt Shaughnessy, Alex Okafor, Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander, Glenn Carson, Marcus Benard
Most of these were easy. My only questions were who to put as the fourth ILB. I don't think Ernie Sims will do enough and like Glenn Carson. He has impressed the coaches so far. It came down to him or Kenny Demens. Carson is my pick as the undrafted player to make the squad. At OLB, the four main guys were pretty easy. Benard, though, who is a bubble guy, was the last player I added to the roster. he was my number 53. He has special teams value and would not be a bad guy to have in case of injury.
CB (6): Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Bryan McCann, Teddy Williams
As you will note in the safeties, I have Tyrann Mathieu starting the season on the roster. Since he probably won't be available starting the season, I felt I needed an extra safety or corner. In this case, I liked adding an extra corner. That left Curtis Taylor out at safety and saved Teddy Williams. The first four on the list were easy. Number five was tough before I decided to go with six. If I had gone with five, I like McCann a little more than Williams. They both have the same special teams value, but McCann can play on defense. In fact, I saw him lined up like a safety a couple of times in practice, so it is like having an extra safety in a pinch. Williams was among the final three I added.
S (4): Tyrann Mathieu, Deone Bucannon, Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson
There is no doubt about any of these guys, except perhaps Mathieu getting off the preseason PUP. In the end, I think he practices with the team and they burn a roster spot carrying him until he can play. As mentioned before, I knew I would need an extra DB. Curtis Taylor could be that guy at safety instead of Teddy Williams, but went with Williams instead.
K: Jay Feely
I know many want Feely to lose to Chandler Catanzaro. But I think that Feely wins this. He has a history of winning competitions. On a team like the Cardinals that has playoff hopes, I think that the veteran gets the edge over the undrafted rookie. Just a hunch. Of course, there is a slight possibility that one of the other bubble players like Marcus Benard gets bumped in favor of Catanzaro as a kickoff specialist, who could continue to push Feely during the season.
P: Dave Zastudil
LS: Mike Leach
PUP: Alameda Ta'amu
As I mentioned, as good as Ta'amu is for the defensive line, they have a very good nose tackle in Dan Williams already. No need to rush the big guy. The position and physical demands on the knee make it imperative that he not be rushed, and he got hurt later than Mathieu. I think it makes sense that he sit the first six weeks.
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