The Arizona Cardinals closed out the preseason against the Denver Broncos in Mile High Stadium, earning a win. This was also the last chance to shine for those players fighting for a roster spot, as Ron Wolfley kept emphasizing that magical 18 number, 8 for the 53 man roster and 10 for practice squad.
So, where do things stand now in the position battle?
The battle for third string QB hadn't been decided before this game, and likely will be one of the final, and hardest decisions to make. Phillip Sims started, and played the first half. He struggled early on, holding onto the ball and getting sacked for it. Once he settled, Sims led the Cardinals on a pair of scoring plays, including a touchdown pass to Paul Lasike. Sims finished the night 14/22 for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Logan Thomas played the second half, and like SIms, was also sacked. Unlike Sims though, Thomas found speedster J.J. Nelson for a touchdown bomb that shows the greatness that Thomas has physically. Thomas threw for 116 yards, going 9/10 with the touchdown to Nelson.
Will this matter at all once the cut to 53 happens? Rumors are that the Cards may only hold 2 QBs. So this may end up being the battle for practice squad QB. Sunday shall be interesting.
Since Bobby Massie is in the legal mire of Goodellville, the Cards have been looking to find someone to man the right tackle spot of the line while that drama plays out. They first tried Bradley Sowell, and we all know how that worked. They also gave DJ. Humphries a look, and that made me pine for Sowell. Then they tossed in Earl Watford, and the guy had a good game. Nice kick step, able to mirror defenders. if I were the Cardinals brass, I think I know who I'm penciling in for week 1.
A 3/4 defense relies on the OLB to generate 1 on 1 pass rush and sacks. The side across from Alex Okafor is up for grabs. Last night we took a look at some players vying for that spot. Rookie Markus Golden flashed in the game, sacking the QB and adding in 3 tackles. Kareem Martin also added a sack and a pair of tackles. Injured rookie Shaq Riddick was able to suit for the game, but might be a case for the practice squad. All in all, I would say that none of these players in this group should feel secure until finals cuts and claims are made.
Inside linebacker has been an issue for the Cards since the 'One Who Shall Not Be Spoken Of' was suspended. The Cardinals brought in a glut of rookie UDFAs, as well as signing Sean Weatherspoon to a contract. Last nights' game gave a final look at the remaining rookie contenders, thumper Gabe Martin and 3 down backer Alani Fua. Martin ended up with 4 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Fua notched 3 tackles. At this point in time, I see the Cards going with Martin and trying to sneak Fua down to the practice squad. Weatherspoon was only slotted to play for some long, but kept himself in. That's a good sign, as the Cards will need his athleticism and experience.
So we know the top five receives are Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown, J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown. That leaves possibly 1 spot for a very deep WR corps. Brittan Golden did not play last night, but both Jaxon Shipley and Trevor Harman did spending time at WR and punt return duties. Each looked sharp. I don't know if the Cards keep six here, but honestly, any one of the 3 is a viable candidate. If the team is lucky, they'll be able to stash another of these guys on the practice squad.
Tomorrow will be a interesting day for moves, stay tuned for updates as the Cards trim don to 53.