With the preseason over, we now have had four preseason games to look at players and their performance. The Arizona Cardinals now have to make decisions to get the roster down to 53 players and to stay under the salary cap with those 53 players, as well as the guys on injured reserve and the players who will be on the practice squad. With the actual 53-man roster coming up soon, here is one final set of projections, based on one more preseason game.
Quarterbacks (3): Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas
Thomas' play on Thursday locked him for the roster. I believe he could be lost if waived because he does have elite arm talent, especially with his tape this preseason. There are a lot of questions, but he makes throws few can in the league. For me, the decision comes down to poise vs. potential. I saw enough to believe Thomas is on track to be able to be trusted as a backup next year. Sims wasn't bad, but the potential of Thomas is something I can't pass up.
Running backs (5): Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson, David Johnson, Kerwynn Williams, Robert Hughes
With Williams now handling kickoff returns, it looks like he has found his way onto the roster. With how Chris Johnson looked, he will make the team. The one thing that I had to change here was Stepfan Taylor. I have believed there was no way he doesn't make the team because of what he offers in versatility, which is perfect for the fourth running back. However, since Robert Hughes offers the same things, I can see how Taylor would be expendable. Either Taylor or Hughes will be on the roster. I can see a world with only four backs and Williams is cut, too.
Wide receivers (5): Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown
I push the receiver number down to five, but maybe they do only four running backs because of keeping Thomas. The sixth guy would be Jaxon Shipley, who I believe has passed up Brittan Golden.
Tight end (4): Darren Fells, Troy Niklas, Jermaine Gresham, Ifeanyi Momah
The injury to Gerald Christian made this easy, but I thought it was fairly certain to begin with. Momah showed enough to make it impossible to cut. Christian's injury actually could be a blessing in disguise. He would have been cut and, at best, added to the practice squad. Now, if he is put on injured reserve, he is stashed away for another year and will have a chance next year when Gresham is probably on another team.
Offensive line (9): Jared Veldheer, Ted Larsen, A.Q. Shipley, Jonathan Cooper, Earl Watford, Mike Iupati, D.J. Humphries, Lyle Sendlein, Bobby Massie
The league must let the Cardinals know by Saturday if Massie will be suspended the first week of the season. Let's assume that doesn't happen. In this projection, I assume Watford would have the starting job if Massie is suspended. That makes Bradley Sowell expendable, as D.J. Humphries becomes the team's swing tackle.
Defensive line (7): Frostee Rucker, Rodney Gunter, Calais Campbell, Cory Redding, Xavier Williams, Josh Mauro, Ed Stinson
No changes here. Mauro's versatility makes Matt Shaughnessy expendable, as he is younger and cheaper. Shaughnessy seems to be the most likely trade candidate on the Cardinals roster. I could see Alameda Ta'amu squeezing in over Stinson, but his lack of versatility hurts him.
Inside linebacker (4): Kevin Minter, Sean Weatherspoon, Kenny Demens, Alani Fua
Gabe Martin is a possibility, but I still think Fua gets the nod. Martin is probably a practice squad guy.
Outside linebacker (5): LaMarr Woodley, Alex Okafor, Kareem Martin, Markus Golden, Shaq Riddick
There is a lot to like about the three young guys in Martin, Golden and Riddick.
Cornerback (3): Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel
This leaves little depth, but since Tyrann Mathieu plays slot corner, it is like having four. I do believe, like others, the Cards will be looking for a veteran fourth guy to pick up. Jonte Green is a possibility here, too. Cariel Roberts lands on the practice squad.
Safety (5): Tyrann Mathieu, Deone Bucannon, Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson, Chris Clemons
I have said this before -- Clemons is the wild card. Arizona actually needs more depth here because they frequently play with four safeties on the field. Also, Clemons has been the seventh DB when the Cardinals use seven DBs. Of course, if the team wants to keep four corners, Bethel can fill that seventh DB role, as he did last year. That would push Clemons off the roster.
Punter: Drew Butler
Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro
Long snapper: Mike Leach