The Arizona Cardinals officially kick of their season in less than a week. After an offseason that saw the Cardinals add pieces to their weak spots, and a Preseason that left many fans with plenty of question, the team will get it's first opportunity to answer some of those question.
Now that "final" cuts are done, and the teams are building their Practice Squads, teams are releasing their first Depth Charts of the 2016 season. The Cardinals did not have any true shocks to their depth chart, but there are some spots that caught my eye.
On the defensive front, it's Calais Campbell and Rodney Gunter as the starters at Defensive Tackle. Frostee Rucker is Gunter's primary backup, which makes sense considering he missed a large portion of Training Camp. Ed Stinson will backup Campbell, Josh Mauro will be the third backup, with Robert Nkemdiche at the bottom of the list. No surprises here. Nkemdiche figures to still see a lot of reps, and should surpass Mauro and Stinson at some point this season.
Our Nose Tackles are as expected. Corey Peters, followed by Xavier Williams and Olsen Pierre. Pierre was one of the surprises to make the roster.
At Linebacker, Chandler Jones will start on the strong side, with Markus Golden on the weak side. Alex Okafor will be Jones backup, with Kareem Martin behind Golden. Again no surprises.
The Secondary is to be expected. Patrick Peterson and Brandon Williams the starters coming out of camp. Justin Bethel will backup Wiliams, and recent trade acquistion, Marcus Cooper, will be Peterson's backup. Cooper will see snaps opening week, and should see more and more until he knows the Defense.
D.J. Swearinger and Tyrann Mathieu are the starting safeties for Week One. Tony Jefferson will see the field plenty, as will Tyvon Branch, who can play as a slot corner as well. Marquis Christian is third.
Definitely no shockers here. Would have expected Jefferson to be listed as the starter to pair with Swearinger, but it appears that Tyrann Mathieu is as close to 100% as you can get following an ACL tear.
Offensively it's straight up as well. Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are the starting Wide Receivers. Jaron Brown will be Fitzgeralds backup, John Brown and JJ Nelson will backup Floyd.
Tackles are Jared Veldheer on the left side, D.J. Humphries on the right, and John Wetzel backing up Veldheer.
At Guard, Mike Iupati and Evan Mathis will start, with Cole Toner backing up Mathis.
Center is obviously A.Q. Shipley, Earl Watford, and Evan Boehm. Watford can be used anywhere on the Offensive front, and will likely be the primary backup to everyone other than Veldheer.
Tight Ends are Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham. Troy Niklas had a very strong Preseason, and is in line to receive more snaps than he did in years past.
Runningback has David Johnson starting, Chris Johnson as the number two, and Andre Ellington being the third back. Stepfan Taylor is the fourth again. This makes sense for Ellington. Keep him fresh in case of emergency, and since he will be the kick and punt returner for the season.
Quarterback is Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. Obviously.
The Special Teams unit is all straightforward. Chandler Catanzaro will kick, Drew Butler will punt, and Andre Ellington will be the kick and punt returner. That will be something to watch during the season.
The roster is finally formed, and it's time to put it to the test. The Cardinals take on the New England Patriots to open the season on Sunday, September 11th.