Despite all starters being rested, the final pre-season game was a chance for those on the roster bubble to make a final push to stay with the team beyond August. Let's take our final look at the positions on the roster that are being fought for.
Fourth Running back:
There's no doubt that Andre Ellington is the lead back, and Jonathan Dwyer and Stepfan Taylor will split time backing up 'Dre, but the final RB spot on the roster has been available all offseason. The likes of Jalen Parmele and Zach Baumann have made efforts at securing that position, but neither have impressed. It's expected that Robert Hughes be given the nod and secure the final RB spot on the roster.
Jared Veldheer and Bobbie Massie are the expected starters at left and right tackle respectively, leaving Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter to battle it out all offseason for the swing-tackle job. Potter has certainly been the more impressive player in camp and during pre-season games. The likelihood is that the Cardinals will take six receivers, reducing the number of OL guys from nine to eight. Ideally, both make the team, but I think his efforts in camp will give Potter the nod.
The John Brown hype train continues to rumble on as we draw closer to the season start. While he has impressed with his electric speed, agility and overall play-making ability, I expect Arians to favor his veterans and let Ted Ginn Jr have the WR3 spot, for now. If Brown continues to impress, I think he'll eventually usurp Ginn.
This is if the Cardinals even keep a sixth receiver on the roster, which they are widely expected to. Fitzgerald, Floyd, Ginn and John Brown are locks for the roster, leaving the final two spots up for grabs. Jaron Brown has made flashy plays and has a lot of upside, he looks set to be the WR5. Walt Powell and Brittan Golden are seemingly the two in question for the WR6 spot. Powell has more upside as a receiver, not to mention the recent draft pick they invested in him should see him onto the roster. It's unlikely he can clear waivers and make the practice squad.
The team are expected to carry nine linebackers, meaning there is room for one more layer who's on the bubble. Sam Acho, Alex Okafor, John Abraham and Matt Shaughnessy are expected to make it as the outside guys, with Larry Foote, Kevin Minter and Kenny Demens to be on the team playing inside, and Lorenzo Alexander with his versatility to play both positions and special teams makes him a lock. The last spot comes down to whether you want depth on the inside with Desmond Bishop, or on the outside with Marcus Bernard. It's a tough call. I think I give the edge to Bishop because the depth and experience is needed more on the inside. Alexander, a natural outside guy, is being force to play inside. Bishop gives the team four genuine inside linebackers.
Backup Defensive Line:
With Alameda Ta'amu still not cleared to play and won't be on the roster Week 1, there is a space for someone to make the team and hopefully impress. Now with Darnell Dockett out for the year through injury, experience is needed on the line. Veterans Tommy Kelly and Isaac Sopoaga are two players in the mix for the final DL job. The team have come away impressed with Kelly during the short time he's spent with the team, and I think he's the one who makes the team.