The Arizona Cardinals will have to make the first set of cuts by Tuesday of next week, trimming the roster down to 75 players. Before that happens and before the third preseason game, it's time to make some projections based on what we know from the first two preseason games, the loss of Darnell Dockett, the return of Tyrann Mathieu and Alameda Ta'amu and the addition of a couple of defensive linemen.
Here are my latest roster projections, also knowing that I can't predict waiver claims or other signings after cuts.
Quarterbacks (3): Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas
This is pretty easy. They won't keep four QBs and they aren't cutting Thomas.
Running backs (4): Andre Ellington, Jonathan Dwyer, Stepfan Taylor, Robert Hughes
Also easy. The order of the depth chart is fluid, though. Zach Bauman could land on the practice squad. Jalen Parmele could squeak onto the roster as well, but I think they will go another direction first.
Wide receivers (6): Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn, John Brown, Jaron Brown, Walt Powell
I think they have to keep six wideouts. Jaron Brown has to have a spot on the roster and Walt Powell has shown to be valuable enough that he might not "sneak" onto the practice squad. He can make special teams contributions now. That being said, I don't see any other receiver on the practice squad if they keep six guys.
Tight ends (4): John Carlson, Rob Housler, Troy Niklas, Darren Fells
The retirement of Jake Ballard makes this super easy. Andre Hardy could be a practice squad guy, too.
Offensive line (8): Jared Veldheer, Jonathan Cooper, Lyle Sendlein, Paul Fanaika, Bobby Massie, Earl Watford, Ted Larsen, Max Starks
I wavered here whether to go with eight or nine linemen. However, with new practice squad rules, it made it easy to cut both Nate Potter and Bradley Sowell. They both are now practice squad eligible. One will end up there. Bruce Arians will only dress eight linemen on game day, so this is how it will probably end up. Nate Potter was very close to making this group.
Defensive line (7): Frostee Rucker, Dan Williams, Calais Campbell, Ed Stinson, Alameda Ta'amu, Kareem Martin, Isaac Sopoaga
I don't think seven defensive linemen makes sense, but since they have been running Sopoaga out there with the "ones," it looks like they intend on having him stick around. I am guessing this means either Ed Stinson or Kareem Martin will end up inactive on game days. Outside of Sopoaga, I can't see any of these guys being cut.
Inside linebacker (4): Larry Foote, Kevin Minter, Lorenzo Alexander, Desmond Bishop
The way Brice Arians and Steve Keim have talked about Bishop, I can't ignore that. The other three are locks. The one other guy I considered was Kenny Demens, but think he will make the practice squad. In terms of special teams, I chose to keep Marcus Benard because he has more speed.
Outside linebacker (5): John Abraham, Matt Shaughnessy, Sam Acho, Alex Okafor, Marcus Benard
The top four were locks. Benard was a bubble guy. I thought his upside in pass rushing and his speed for special teams was a better guy on the roster than a ninth offensive lineman or Kenny Demens.
Cornerbacks (5): Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Bryan McCann
I like McCann more than Teddy Williams because of his ability to actually play cornerback. He's been a nickel and dime guy before. Williams perhaps is a practice squad guy, but probably not. With the return of Mathieu, I didn't see a need for a 10th defensive back as I had in my previous projections
Safety (4): Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson, Rashad Johnson, Deone Bucannon
These four are obvious. A fifth guy could have been in the mix if I had not kept a seventh D-lineman and that would be Anthony Walter, who has flashed a bit in camp. It looks like Mathieu will be ready to go Week 1, so no extra DB will be needed.
Kicker: Jay Feely
After the Minnesota game, I went all the way the other way with Catanzaro, but Arians said Feely got more length on his kickoffs. He noted the coverage team was terrible, so it wasn't noticed and there were penalties that pushed them back. Plus, Catanzaro has been inconsistent in practice with field goals, so I will stick with my original thoughts that the veteran would pull it out.
Punter: Dave Zastudil
Is there any other choice?
Long snapper: Mike Leach
We have seen Troy Niklas, Glenn Carson and Bradley Sowell all get some pre-practice work as a long snapper, but don't look into it too much. That is more for emergency situations should Leach get hurt. This job is Leach's once again.
Interesting thing -- I don't see a single undrafted rookie making the team. Catanzaro is the only one I think has a chance at the roster. And that seems to be strange because I don't recall a preseason where some undrafted rookie didn't make the team.