I don't know about the rest of the fanbase, but trying to determine who was going to make the team make the game against the Broncos created the most exciting preseason game yet. Now it is time to talk about who helped and hurt themselves.
The first time CJ2K was able to get onto the field and he looked like another level of running back. Johnson averaged 4.1 yards per carry, but anyone who watched can attest Johnson looked like a starter. It would be a huge shock if he is cut.
Another player who really shouldn't have been talked about as a potential roster cut. Weatherspoon played for the first time all preseason and he played unlike anyone else on that defense -- a veteran. Weatherspoon was making calls and plays all over the field.
Shipley was the undisputed consistent safety net for both Logan Thomas and Phillip Sims. He had at least four first downs and was fearless running the underneath routes in traffic. Meanwhile, he proved his value as a special team player as a punt returner.
What is insane is that the team may still cut Shipley because there are at least 4 other receivers before him and a logjam at the remaining skill positions. However, I would be shocked if he doesn't at least make the practice squad after his performance
Say what you will about potential, Golden's "high motor" was on display yesterday putting pressure on the quarterback, even registering a sack. Most of all, he had an incredible play early in the game where he didn't get sucked into a misdirection running play and stayed on his assignment. He's a three down outside linebacker and thus invaluable.
The battle for inside linebacker has been a tough one. While Alani Fua has gotten more praise from the coaching staff, Gabe Martin has played better overall at inside linebacker. If the Cards plan on keeping injury-prone Sean Weatherspoon they need to keep Martin as a backup.
Like Golden, Martin was a force against the Broncos. He tallied another sack using straight speed to rush around the left tackle. This wasn't a blown assignment by the opposing offense, but rather all skill from Martin. As with Golden, any pass rush is a necessary pass rush.
A lot of preconceived notions influence opinions of Thomas, but if you watched the game without ever having watched Thomas before you would absolutely put him on the roster. Thomas stood tall in the pocket, passed accurately, and progressed properly in his route reads. His performance culminated in the play of the game with a prefect throw for 59 yards for a J.J. Nelson touchdown.
Nelson is a lock for the roster, but he clearly is a raw talent. Once again he had miscommunication with a quarterback on several passes, including slowing on a route. Consider his physical ability and he can't block very well. He'll play, but don't expect the same rookie performance as 2014 John Brown.
Two false starts, poor run blocking and allowing a sack early on Sims should have sealed his fate. It was a night of mental and physical mistakes that just cannot be ignored.
Say what you want about his running and catching abilities, Williams looks exactly like Stepfan Taylor. The biggest difference is the reason Williams won't make the team. Pass blocking. Taylor is impressive in how he can pick up the blitz. Williams, on the other hand, blew his pass blocking on at least 3 plays that I counted and we're talking about huge misses leading to pass blocks and balls being thrown away.
I know the coaching staff has praised Fua, but with Golden, Martin and Riddick all able to play OLB the coaching staff needs to focus on who can actually play the game best. Throughout the game, Fua was sucked into misdirection runs and beaten while trying to cover receivers. Expect him to still make the practice squad.
He looked just as poorly this week at left tackle as Sowell did last week at right tackle. Sowell was beaten while pass blocking and the running game to the left side was fairly non-existent. He may have even lost his starting position after Earl Watford's average performance at right tackle.
It's not that Shaughnessy played poorly vs. the Broncos. Or even during the entire offseason. It's the problem that I cannot remember one time when I took notice of him during a game. The Cardinals have to cut linemen and there are cheaper options like Josh Mauro who can perform just as well as Shaughnessy.
Catman wasn't all that great during the preseason last year, so I believe he'll be better in the regular season. That said, the second year kicker missed three point after attempts and that cannot happen from here on out. We shouldn't have to expect a kicker position battle every offseason.
I know this will be the controversial opinion, but hear me out. Sims has looked decent all preseason. However, the Broncos game allowed us to see where Sims struggled over an extended period of time and they are not easily fixed areas. Sims doesn't have great footwork. His throwing was off target enough to lead to interceptions in the future and he I cannot remember him throwing farther than 10 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt.
Frankly, Sims looked like a rookie. That said he was good enough he absolutely should get a practice squad position, but he did not beat out Logan Thomas and needs more time to fix his mechanical issues.