Take it with a grain of salt: Cardinals release Week 1 depth chart
Heading into the first preseason game, Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks listed sixth-year NFL veteran Brice Butler as the team’s No. 2 receiver.
The coach admitted then that it was merely about putting a name to paper.
Butler, it turned out, wasn’t not only failing to lead the pack. By the end of camp, he was behind it and found himself released when the 53-man roster cuts came down over the weekend.
So take the Week 1 regular season depth chart released Tuesday before Arizona’s Sunday hosting of the Washington Redskins with a grain of salt.
Among the notable listings, Arizona has second-year pro Chad Williams starting at the second of two receivers, joining 15-year veteran Larry Fitzgerald. Rookie and second-round pick Christian Kirk is listed as Fitzgerald’s backup, but he, J.J. Nelson and even undrafted rookie Trent Sherfield could see regular reps.
“I’m very comfortable with the core of wide receivers,” Wilks told Bickley & Marotta Tuesday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I think everything that you get is earned, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned vet or a priority free agent.
“I think Brice is a good football player but at no point in time I thought that he had stepped up beyond the performance of Trent Sherfield.”
The Cardinals’ depth chart hardly changed during the preseason beyond reflecting backend roster maneuvers. What it did say didn’t mean much, it turns out.
But with the 53-man roster set heading into Week 1 of the regular season, there were few notable updates on the offensive portion of the depth chart. Weekend waiver-wire acquisitions Jeremy Vujnovich (backup left and right guard) and Blaine Clausell (backup right tackle) appear for the first time, as does tight end Jermaine Gresham, who was pulled off the PUP list Saturday. Gresham, who is coming off an Achilles injury, is listed behind Ricky Seals-Jones and Gabe Holmes.
Unlike Gresham, Markus Golden is listed as a first-team defensive end despite also being activated off the PUP list over the weekend.
Undrafted rookie Dennis Gardeck is listed as the backup SAM linebacker behind Haason Reddick. Undrafted converted safety Zeke Turner is listed as WILL linebacker Deone Bucannon’s backup; Turner was previously listed at strong safety.
Arizona will likely use three-safety packages often, making the linebacker rotation hard to grasp before regular game action. Likewise, Antoine Bethea’s appearance ahead of Tre Boston at free safety is more of a formality. Both will likely play often and with one another in nickel packages.
At cornerback, Jamar Taylor unsurprisingly earned the starting job opposite Patrick Peterson. Taylor is backed up by preseason standout Bene Benwikere, while third-year pro Brandon Williams is listed as Peterson’s backup. Sixth-round pick Chris Campbell, who was cut, was listed as Peterson’s backup during the preseason.
And in the return game, T.J. Logan is listed as the kick return man, while Kirk is the starting punt returner.