Three to Watch: Top Practice Squad Candidates

While every little kid's NFL dream typically doesn't involve the practice squad, for undrafted rookie free agents it's generally their only shot of making a name for themselves. With only eight available spots and the deepest roster the Cardinals have seen in a while, the competition is stiff. These three rookies are fired up to take their game and the Cardinals to the next level.

1. OT Peter Clifford

With a limited amount of space available on the practice squad, Clifford's versatility will be a huge advantage for keeping him in red. His ability to move from guard to tackle should help him find a spot.

Clifford's adaptability on the line is a definite plus, but his tenacity and toughness gets the job done. He was solid as run blocker at Michigan State and his pass protection was stellar.

Clifford has admitted that he needs to work on getting stronger and improving his leverage. He told AZRedReport.com that he tends to be over aggressive at times on the field, but a year under offensive line coach Russ Grimm should help him channel that fierceness to something that works for the Cardinals.

To say Clifford is onboard is an understatement.

"I feel like I am in the right place at the right time," Clifford said. "Last year was a good season for the Cardinals and we are going to get better. I want to help them get their first winning season in a long time."

Arizona is lacking a whole lot of depth at the line. Its success up front will dictate the season, so don't be surprised to see Carlton Medder or Hercules Satele on the practice squad roster waiting for the right opportunity to come along and call them up. Unfortunately for Medder, he has a broken elbow working against him.

2. LB Ali Highsmith

With a national title under his belt from LSU, Highsmith is ready to give one to the Cardinals. He's prepared, focused and comes to play every day. Highsmith got to give the desert a taste of his talent in the preseason opener versus the New Orleans Saints. He not only led the Cardinals with a team-high six tackles, but he outplayed his main competition sixth-round pick Chris Harrington who is a total package type of player ready to make the transition from defensive end to linebacker.

For Highsmith, he'll have to modify his game from the 4-3 that he played at LSU to the Cardinals 3-4, but if the Saints game was any indication, he should do just fine.

3. Defensive Tackle Keilen Dykes

The defensive line is a little crowded these days with the offseason additions of both rookies and veteran players, but Dykes is ready to do whatever it takes to keep him on the depth chart. He had a big physical presence at West Virginia and is hungry for a place in the big league.

He saw action against the Saints and was there to recover a fumble made by quarterback Tyler Palko and wrapped up a tackle on rookie running back Lynell Hamilton.

Dykes told AZRedReport.com that an extended day in the desert is in the cards.

"[The Cardinals] remind me of how West Virginia was when I was just coming in," Dykes said. "They lost that bowl game the year I came in, but you could tell that things were changing with the coaching staff. The same thing is going on here, they went 8-8 last year, and I think this year we can get over that hump and make it to the playoffs. We want to win the NFC West."


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