The Arizona Cardinals have to make the cut from 90 men, to 75 in eight days. For many players, their last shot to make a claim at the roster is on Sunday, when the Cardinals take on the Houston Texans. The starters are likely to play the entire first quarter, and a portion of the second, leaving the guys fighting for their spots very little time to shine.
On paper, 15 players isn’t a lot to cut. You have a handful of obvious decisions for the Cardinals, but there are a number of guys the Cardinals could want to take a look at in the final preseason game. Those guys will be victims of the numbers game.
We take a look at a number of guys who could see their NFL dreams take an abrupt halt next Tuesday.
We start in the defense, primarily the secondary. The Cardinals have 12 cornerbacks on the roster right now. Last season, they only carried four. That may be subject to change, due to Justin Bethels injury, Brandon Williams being a rookie, and Tyrann Mathieu (listed as safety, but plays a lot in the slot) coming back from injury. Mike Jenkins has had his name called for making some big plays in practice since his return from injury. He will likely get an extended look in the fourth preseason game. Asa Jackson and Alan Ball have missed practice time and game time due to lingering injuries. Both are strong candidates to have their names called when the cuts are announced next week.
Ronald Zamort is another name likely to be gone from the cornerbacks room as well. The Cardinals will probably want to keep some depth at the cornerback position for the final game, in order to keep Brandon Williams and Justin Bethel healthy for the regular season opener, so don’t expect more than three cuts here.
At Safety, the Cardinals are carrying eight, and only carried four last season as well. As of now, D.J. Swearinger, Marquis Christian, Tyvon Branch, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tony Jefferson, look like they are locks to make the final roster. Christian and Branch figure to play heavy snaps in the final preseason game. Do the Cardinals cut all the safeties they don’t want next week? Chris Clemons has been getting snaps at the “Money Linebacker” position. The Cardinals could cut him due to the possible assault charges he could face for his action in May.
Outside of Clemons, the Cardinals only have one safety who could be with the team, albeit likely a Practice Squad player. Matthias Farley has turned some heads in camp and games, and could make it to final cuts before finding a spot on the Practice Squad.
On the Defensive Line, the Cardinals likely won’t make any cuts. It’s possible that the Cardinals keep seven of the ten players at that position. Olsen Piere played a lot a snaps with the first team in the absence of Corey Peters and Frostee Rucker, and has gained recognition from the coaching staff. Josh Mauro was a guy that I doubted would make the roster, but he’s shown up on film a number of times, and provided excellent depth. Iosia Iosia missed some practice time after being signed, and would be among my cuts in for 75.
At Inside Linebacker the Cardinals will only keep four, and Deone Bucannon is one of those four. Kevin Minter is the other. That leaves four players for two spots. Gabe Martin, Alani Fua, Lamar Louis, and Donald Butler. Fua and Martin have been in the scheme for a year now, giving both the inside track at the job. Martin is currently out with injury right now, leaving Donald Butler with a chance to steal his spot.
Lamar Louis figures to be the odd man out. However, if Chris Clemons does not get cut, he’s likely the third Inside Linebacker, or “Money Backer”, leaving the four to fight for the one job.
At outside linebacker, the Cardinals currently have six guys, four of which will make the roster. Markus Golden and Chandler Jones are locks. Kareem Martin and Alex Okafor, despite their injuries will also more than likely make the roster. Shaq Riddick tore his oblique muscle, and will miss an undetermined amount of time. It’s likely his time in Arizona will be done, unless the Cardinals place him on IR. Tristan Okpalaugo is the last name on the list. He looks the part of a pass rusher at 6’5, 258. But with the numbers ahead of him, he seems to be more of a Practice Squad candidate, and won’t be touched in the first cuts.
Defensively the Cardinals are stacked, and roster spots could go any which way for guys fighting for spots. However, offensively, the Cardinals likely know who’s staying and who’s going.
At Quarterback, Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton are in. Matt Barkley and Jake Coker are fighting for their jobs. At this point, neither makes the roster. But with Matt Barkley taking the bulk of the snaps, Jake Coker could be among the first cuts. That would give Barkley a large number of snaps in the final preseason game, to show he’s worth a spot.
Running back offers a little more competition, but none will be cut in the first round. The team will keep Elijhaa Penny for the final game, so don’t expect his name next week.
At Wide Receiver, two names jump out right away. Amir Carlise and Franky Okafor. Both players have made little impact in practice and in games.
Tight End will likely be kept into the final preseason game. If there is a Tight End cut next week, look for Hakeem Valles to be that guy.
At Center, A.Q. Shipley is your starter. The second job was between Evan Boehm and Taylor Boggs. The Cardinals could release Boggs next week, and let Boehm have the entire final game to play. Boggs is not Practice Squad eligible.
Tackle could see one player let go. That player would either be Clay Debord or Givens Price. Neither has seen the field much, with John Wetzel and Rob Crisp seeing the majority of the snaps with the twos and threes.
The Guard position could also have one player sent packing next week. Jake Bernstein could very well be the man gone. The other players at the position either have a case to stay, Earl Watford, or are making their case to work on the Practice Squad, Cole Toner and Antoine McClain.
Obviously these are just players to keep an eye on. These are players I view as merely camp bodies, and guys who won’t see the Practice Squad. Things can change, and likely will change. Each year there’s at least one fan favorite who gets the boot.
Are there players on here you think will survive another week? Someone I missed that you think gets cut? Discuss in the comments.