Three to Watch: Veteran Players on the Bubble

Competition is a plenty every offseason in the NFL as veterans' jobs become less and less secure with additions from the draft and free agency. The Arizona Cardinals clubhouse is no different. Here is a look at three Cardinals veterans who can't get too comfortable this summer.

WR Sean Morey

It is hard to make a case that there is a receiving corps in the NFL better than that of Arizona's. The trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston combined for 3,475 receiving yards in 2008. Jerheme Urban is a reliable target at the No. 4 spot, and Early Doucet possesses considerable potential. That leaves little room for a sixth receiver to make much of an impact. While Morey does little as a receiver, he is a prized special teamer.

He earned a trip to Hawaii in 2008 for his efforts, compiling 18 tackles along the way. Morey is a seasoned veteran who knows his role on the team. In all likelihood, Morey will remain a Cardinal in 2009. There is a chance, however, that Shane Morales or Justin Brown—both undrafted rookie free agents—could steal Morey's roster spot, if either has an impressive training camp.

The Cardinals organization values the work Morey has done on special teams, but at the end of the day, a special teams player is a whole lot more expendable than most other position players. Even though Morey was a Pro Bowler in 2008, don't be surprised if he's gone in 2009.

OLB Victor Hobson

The Cardinals signed Hobson prior to the final regular season game in 2008 to add depth to their pass rushing attack. Before the 2009 draft, Hobson was in line to be third on the depth chart behind veterans Chike Okeafor and Clark Haggans. With the additions of Cody Brown and Will Davis via the draft, Hobson may be on the outside looking in come September.

Hobson performed adequately for the Jets from 2003-2007, posting his best season in 2006 with 100 tackles and six sacks. Hobson played in only three games last year, two with the Bengals and one with the Cardinals. The seven-year veteran has great experience working in a 3-4 defense, a scheme the Cardinals plan to utilize more under defensive coordinator Bill Davis.

The Cardinals showed they wanted to upgrade an aging outside linebacker position with the addition of Brown and Davis. Brown is a clear-shot to make the team, and is a big part of Arizona's future. Davis is less explosive and less prepared for the NFL than Brown. The final spot for OLB could very well come down to a competition between the Davis and the Hobson.

SS Keith Lewis

Arizona picked up Lewis this offseason to enhance competition at the safety position. Problem for Lewis is that he finds himself behind a string of veterans on the depth chart. Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson will assume the starting positions. Matt Ware and Aaron Francisco are solid backups to Rolle and Wilson. Each has experience working in the Arizona's system, and thus has an advantage over Lewis.

Lewis was a hard-hitting safety and great special teams contributor in San Francisco. The knock on Lewis, however, is that he lacks speed and coverage ability. He had a breakout year in 2006, recording 76 tackles and two interceptions, but saw his role diminished greatly in both 2007 and 2008.

The Cardinals added another safety by drafting Rashad Johnson in the third round of the 2009 draft. The playmaker from Alabama says he is comfortable playing either strong or free safety. The potential and versatility of Johnson make him a lock to be on the roster and hurt Lewis's chances. It is hard to see Lewis finding a way onto the roster with the depth ahead of him, but the NFL is an uncertain game, and he will at least be a nice insurance policy heading into training camp.


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