Benny Tieu/USA Today Sports

Cardinals' practice squad still fluid

The Arizona Cardinals signed offensive lineman Kaleb Johnson to their practice squad Thursday after elevating Ifeanyi Momah to the active roster Wednesday.

Injuries have forced the Arizona Cardinals to rotate players in and out of the bottom few spots on the team's roster this year, and as such, the team's practice squad is still taking shape more than three weeks into the regular season.

After the Cardinals placed tight end Troy Niklas on the team's injured reserve list earlier this week, Arizona elevated tight end Ifeanyi Momah from the practice squad. 

Momah's promotion meant the team had an open spot on its practice squad, and Thursday, the organization announced the signing of former Cleveland Browns' offensive lineman Kaleb Johnson to the practice squad.

Johnson entered the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens in 2015 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Rutgers. After spending the first 11 weeks of the year on Baltimore's practice squad, Johnson was elevated to the active roster for two weeks before he was waived and claimed by Cleveland.

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound guard was not a member of the Browns' practice squad this season, and with his addition, Arizona now has a pair of linemen on the practice squad as Johnson joins former Nebraska lineman Givens Price.

At the outset of the regular season, Arizona kept two quarterbacks on the team's practice squad, Aaron Murray and Zac Dysert. After less than two weeks of competition, the team settled on keeping Dysert as its de facto third quarterback, and released Murray to make room for undrafted free agent cornerback Trevon Hartfield.

Johnson's addition to the practice squad is the second practice squad transaction the Cardinals have made this week, as the team announced Tuesday it released former fifth round draft choice Shaquille Riddick and signed linebacker Cam Johnson

After the flurry of rosters moves the Cardinals made this week, including the additions of punter Ryan Quigley, snapper Aaron Brewer and linebacker Joplo Bartu, the bottom of Arizona's roster remains relatively fluid. This Sunday, the Cardinals are likely to keep two punters active, as injured punter Drew Butler is expected to hold field goals for placekicker Chandler Catanzaro.

Heading into the Cardinals' week four contest, Arizona's practice squad is as follows: Dysert, Johnson, Johnson, Hartfield, Price, cornerback Harlan Miller, wide receiver Marquis Bundy, running back Elijhaa Penny, tight end Hakeem Valles, and wide receiver Brittan Golden.

Only half of the 10 players the Cardinals currently have on their practice squad began the season with Arizona, as the team initially announced eight practice squad signings after the organization finalized its 53-man roster.

The turnover on the practice squad roster suggests general manager Steve Keim is keeping a close watch on the overall depth and quality of Arizona's players, and performances are still being monitored closely.

After a strong preseason, undrafted rookie free agent Chris Hubert was a candidate to make the Cardinals' 53-man roster, but his performance faded down the stretch and he was initially signed to the team's practice squad. However, Hubert fell out of favor, and the Cardinals replaced him with Bundy, who struggled through a slow start to training camp before assimilating into the team's offense late. 

At this point, injuries to a quarterback, running back or wide receiver on Arizona's active roster could signify an imminent promotion for Dysert, Penny or Golden, but outside of that trio, it's unlikely the Cardinals would promote a practice squad player ahead of signing an outside option at other positions. The rest of the Cardinals' practice squad options lack valuable experience, but a player like Kaleb Johnson could become a viable challenger for a roster spot if he picks up Arizona's system quickly. 


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