After Sunday's contest against the Houston Texans, the Arizona Cardinals will have less than 48 hours to cut their roster down from 90 players to 75 players.
On Monday, CardinalsSource will release our cut list projections, but heading into Sunday's matchup, CardinalsSource has made key changes to our 53-man roster projections for head coach Bruce Arians' squad. We split the projections into two separate pieces (offense, defense) to highlight and expand upon the changes to our projections.
Arians and general manager Steve Keim have eight days remaining to cut the team's roster from 90 players down to 53, and after evaluating training camp practices and two preseason games, their job has not become any easier.
The Cardinals have between 58 and 60 players who could make a legitimate case for a roster spot, and Arizona will be hard-pressed to whittle a list to 53 players in just over a week's time.
|Carson Palmer||Drew Stanton|
In our initial 53-man roster projection, we projected the Cardinals to carry three quarterbacks because the team seemed invested in the progress of Matt Barkley and because Arizona has always carried three quarterbacks during Arians' tenure. However, with Barkley not doing enough to prove he's a decidedly better option than other quarterbacks around the league who could become practice squad options for Arizona, Barkley knows he needs to play well in the final two preseason contests to merit more consideration for a spot.
|David Johnson||Chris Johnson||Andre Ellington||Stepfan Taylor|
We haven't changed our projections at running back for the Cardinals, as we still anticipate the team to carry four players and for Stepfan Taylor to beat out Kerwynn Williams for the final roster spot. Taylor is the superior blocker and pass catcher, and is the more versatile back in third down situations, whether long or short yardage, and even though Williams is a better ball carrier, Taylor helps complete the depth chart.
|Larry Fitzgerald||Michael Floyd||John Brown|
|Jaron Brown||J.J. Nelson||Chris Hubert|
From the outset of the preseason, Brittan Golden looked like the odds-on favorite to win the Cardinals' sixth receiver job, with Jaxon Shipley coming in a close second. After a strong start to the preseason, Golden suffered a hamstring injury and hasn't participated of late. Golden's injury opened up the competition, and undrafted rookie Chris Hubert seized the spotlight. It's close to a 50-50 proposition for the Cardinals in terms of keeping Hubert or Shipley at this point, and with all the team buzz surrounding the Fayetteville State product, we're inclined to go with Hubert.
|Jermaine Gresham||Darren Fells|
|Troy Niklas||Ifeanyi Momah|
After projecting the Cardinals to keep just three tight ends this season, Ifeanyi Momah's play throughout training camp has caused us to reverse course. Momah brings an added element of versatility to a unit that lacks a truly dynamic player with a receiver-first, blocker-second mentality and his special teams capabilities are too strong for the Cardinals to pass up. In dropping Barkley off of our roster projections, we now anticipate the Cardinals to keep Momah.
|Jared Veldheer||Mike Iupati||A.Q. Shipley||Evan Mathis||D.J. Humphries|
|Earl Watford||Antoine McClain||Evan Boehm||Cole Toner|
The Cardinals' offensive line has become the most difficult position group to project, because the team could conceivably keep just eight offensive linemen and add a fifth cornerback to the roster this season to ensure Arizona has necessary depth and to ensure the team can keep draft pick Harlan Miller in the fold for at least one season. If the Cardinals do elect to keep nine linemen however, we think both Cole Toner and Antoine McClain are poised to make the team ahead of reserve offensive tackles Robert Crisp and John Wetzel. We initially projected Crisp to make the team, but after Arians' recent comments about Humphries' role as the team's emergency left tackle, it's difficult to project either Crisp or Wetzel to make the roster. Furthermore, Toner has improved throughout camp and his play merits a roster spot, while McClain is the more game-ready player of the pair who should be the first reserve called upon outside of Watford. If the Cardinals do sacrifice a ninth offensive lineman and just keep eight, Toner's versatility and status as a draft pick makes him more likely to make the roster ahead of McClain.