With the start of OTAs, the Arizona Cardinals are without the three players they expect to get almost all the playing time at cornerback. Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel and Tyrann Mathieu are all recovering from offseason surgeries. Mathieu had the torn ACL. Peterson had ankle problems for much of the last part of the season and had surgery to clean things up. Bethel had foot surgery.
All are expected to be ready for training camp, but in the meantime, it is a huge opportunity for the many players who are seeking to battle for the final roster spots behind Peterson and Bethel.
Cariel Brooks returns after spending time on the roster as an undrafted rookie. Shaun Prater and Asa Jackson were free agent additions. Then there are two draft picks -- third rounder Brandon Williams and sixth rounder Harlan Miller.
It is unlikely one of these players will do enough to supplant one of the three expected starters, even though there are many fans who would like to see Bethel replaced or challenged. The team still has high expectations for the three-time Pro Bowler for his special teams play.
Who are these players?
Brandon Williams: He is this year's third round pick. He has elite athleticism, but has played cornerback only one year, having converted his final year in college from running back. The team loves his upside and what he was able to do in one year of development.
Harlan Miller: He is this year's sixth round pick. The knock on him is his speed. He had an unimpressive 40 in pre-draft workouts. He has upside because he covers well. Does he have the speed?
Cariel Brooks: He impressed in training camp last year as an undrafted rookie. He stuck on the practice squad and was promoted to the activer roster. He got hurt, but the team brought him back again.
Shaun Prater: Prater (5-10, 190) was an early free agent addition before free agency began, as he had been cut. He was a fifth round pick in 2012 for the Bengals. He got hurt and spent his rookie season on injured reserve and was cut the next year out of training camp. He was claimed off waivers by the Eagles and spend a few weeks there, playing in one game before getting cut again. He was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings and played in eight games, starting three. He would play for the Vikings one more season. In 2015, he appeared in two games -- one with the Vikings and one with the Broncos.
Asa Jackson: Jackson is also 5-10, 190 and was also drafted in 2012 in the fifth round. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. He played four seasons for the Ravens and started six games in 2014. He got hurt last year and was on injured reserve before he was waived/injured. He signed with Arizona before free agency to a future contract.