Arizona Cardinals' Player Wire Updates

The 2009 season is right around the corner and several storylines are beginning to take form in the desert. With the preseason set to get underway this Thursday, updates all of the recent happenings regarding the Arizona Cardinals in this exclusive report.

QBs Brian St. Pierre and Matt Leinart are locked in a tight battle to be Kurt Warner's backup. Leinart holds the edge, but St. Pierre, entering his seventh year, has had some good moments, too. It's the first time in St. Pierre's career that he's being given a shot at anything but the No. 3 job.

RB Chris Wells missed just three games in college at Ohio State, yet questions about his durability and toughness dogged him through the draft process and were likely a major reason he was available to the Cardinals at No. 31. The questions remain after Wells suffered an ankle sprain halfway through his first training camp practice. He's missed a week of work and is unlikely to play in the preseason opener against the Steelers on Thursday night. It isn't the ideal situation, obviously, but coach Ken Whisenhunt thinks there will be plenty of time for Wells to prepare for the season, as long as the sprained ankle progresses as expected.

"Unfortunately for Beanie, he's a rookie and it would have been nice to get him some reps," Whisenhunt said, "but we still have plenty of time to do that."

DL Darnell Dockett appears ready to pick where he left off in the Super Bowl when he had three sacks. His quickness and power make him difficult to block, and his penetration has ruined several plays in this training camp.

TE Dominique Byrd, a former Ram who spent last season out of football, has shown great hands in camp. There are questions about his blocking ability but he's put himself in competition for a roster spot.

The Cardinals knew Byrd could catch because of his accomplishments in college at Southern California. What they didn't know is if Byrd could block. "He's been physical and worked hard on finishing blocks," Whisenhunt said. "He still has a long way to go with that. "He's been a pleasant surprise and he's definitely in the thick of the competition."

CB Greg Toler has great physical attributes but he's not accustomed to defending the precise routes he's seeing. Toler's made some plays but he's also been turned around a few times.

OL Herman Johnson appears to be making a smooth transition from college guard to right tackle. He needs to handle the outside pass rush better but overall, he's impressed.

WR Jerheme Urban is going to be difficult to beat out for the No. 4 job. Urban has caught nearly everything in practice and is faster than people give him credit for. Early Doucet, a second-year player, is out with a sprained shoulder. Lance Long is going to have to make a big impact in preseason to win a spot.

DL Keilen Dykes has a quadriceps strain that could cause him to miss a few weeks. Dykes is the backup to starter Calais Campbell so his continued absence would have an impact.

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling performed well enough early in camp to at least deserve consideration as the team's third-down back. The seventh-round pick is quick and fast enough to get outside. Coaches are curious about what he can do on screens, draws and other players that get him isolated in the open field. Jason Wright, a free agent from Cleveland, is a solid veteran but Stephens-Howling is intriguing.

C Melvin Fowler, who is entering his eighth year, wasn't nervous as training camps opened and he was without work. He had visited some teams and turned down some offers because they weren't the right fit.

Fowler has several friends on the Cardinals, liked the organization and it didn't hurt that it was a team that plays in warm weather. In his career, he had played in Cleveland, Minnesota and Buffalo.

"I think I paid my dues so to speak," he said. "My parents have a retirement home out here, and they've never missed a game I've played in any sports since I was 5 years old." In the winter, his parents will have about a 12 minute drive to see him play.

FS Rashad Johnson, the Cardinals' third-round pick, made a nice pass breakup in a recent scrimmage. He's currently on the third team but should contribute on special teams.

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