Cardinals Fight for 53

While the usual suspects have already secured a spot on the 53-man roster, many younger players and veterans are still jockeying for position. Minicamp and OTAs were just a preview of each player's ability with training camp proving to be the final battle ground heading into the preseason and regular season opener.

On offense, the top of the depth chart at virtually all skill positions are forgone conclusions but there will be several battles for backup roles. One of the quarterbacks will be cut and the most likely candidate at this point is rookie Max Hall. Both Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson are safe, leaving Hall to battle fellow rookie John Skelton for the final spot. Given the Cardinals decision to trade up during the draft to secure Skelton, there is little chance they part ways this early. Look for Hall to end up on the practice squad unless he's signed by another team.

Arizona currently has five running backs at its disposal but at least one will be let go prior to final cuts. Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling are locked into the 53-man roster, leaving the competition to Jason Wright and Alfonso Smith. Both players will focus primarily on special teams with Wright holding a significant advantage in experience. Furthermore, Wright enters his second season in the desert and is familiar with the Cardinals' offense should he be called upon in a reserve role. Like Hall, Smith is an ideal candidate for the practice squad for 2010.

With a surplus of wideouts, Arizona will need to make several cuts at the position in the coming months. Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and company have no part in this discussion but names such as Onrea Jones, Ed Gant and Deryn Bowser will be taking center stage. With the top three wide receivers solidified and third-round draft pick Andre Roberts expected to hang around, only one or two spots remain. Jones has the leg up at this point but anyone is capable of making the team with a lights out performance during training camp.


Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
(Getty)

Defensively, the cornerback position is another area where multiple cuts will occur. The Cardinals have nine options at cornerback and will carry no more than five or six during the regular season. Unfortunately for Arizona, aside from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie there are few proven commodities on the roster. Greg Toler and Michael Adams are the next in line following DRC with a handful of remaining corners left to choose from. Rookie Jorrick Calvin has the most promise but he'll be pushed by other first-year players such as A.J. Jefferson and Marshay Green.

The Cardinals' linebacking corps is relatively short-handed with nearly every player having a chance to secure a roster spot. At outside linebacker, much will depend on the health of incoming rookie O'Brien Schofield. If he's unable to contribute in 2010 it could open up a spot for Stevie Baggs or Mark Washington. The competition at inside linebacker could develop into one of the year's most fierce battles with Reggie Walker and Ali Highsmith fighting for the final spot. Both players could find a home on the active roster if a veteran such as Monty Beisel or Paris Lenon is let go.

Another spotlight battle could be brewing along the defensive line, arguably one of Arizona's deepest positions. The arrival of rookie Dan Williams will cost a fellow defensive tackle a spot on the roster. Keilen Dykes and Dean Muhtadi will have an uphill battle and even Alan Branch's status isn't set in stone due his underwhelming performance. At defensive end, Calais Campbell and Kenny Iwebema are expected to retain their spots on the 53-man roster. Their presence won't help the cause of Jeremy Clark or Ryan Kees who will probably end up on the outside looking in.


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