Vets out, youngsters in: Cardinals make flurry of roster moves
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said he wasn’t trying to send a message.
A flurry of roster moves that saw four starters make way for a youth movement was about results.
Arizona cut right tackle Andre Smith and cornerback Bene Benwikere on Monday, but it also placed linebacker Josh Bynes (thumb) and kicker Phil Dawson (hip) to the injured reserve for the rest of the year.
“I’m not really in the business of trying to send messages or trying to be subliminal in any way,” Wilks said. “I’m very direct in my approach and the things that I say. If you’re not doing it our way, if you’re not giving us the best opportunity to win football games, number one, you won’t be on the field. And if it gets to that point, we’ll move on, and that’s what we did.”
The moves come after the Cardinals suffered a 45-10 defeat in Los Angeles against the Chargers, dropping them to 2-9 on the year.
With five games remaining, rookie seventh-round pick Korey Cunningham, who started the last two games at left tackle, will slide over to the right tackle spot vacated by Smith. Starter D.J. Humphries, meanwhile, is expected to return from a knee injury, Wilks said.
Benwikere was the second rotation cornerback to lose his job in the last two weeks. Arizona has waived Jamar Taylor and him after its last two losses, leaving opportunities for recent defensive back signees David Amerson and Leonard Johnson, plus promoted undrafted rookie Chris Jones.
“We got to be more consistent,” Wilks said of the reasoning for the cuts. “I think right now when your’e sitting here 2-and-9 … you got to try to do everything you can, alright, to win a football game — but also look toward the future.”
At linebacker to replace Bynes, the Cardinals have first-round picks Haason Reddick and Deone Bucannon to play alongside veteran Gerald Hodges.
And at kicker, second-year pro and Arizona State Sun Devil product Zane Gonzalez will move into a starting role a week after the team added him to its practice squad.
Smith, a the sixth overall draft pick in 2009, signed with Arizona on a two-year deal this offseason as the Cardinals attempted to remake their offensive line.
The 43-year-old Dawson is in the final year of his contract, while Bynes, one of the team’s most consistent players this season, is under contract through 2020.
Wilks was asked if he agreed with players who after the loss in Los Angeles said their teammates were not doing what was asked of them by the coaching staff.
“I think if you really listen to your question, I think it’s totally on the players,” Wilks said. “If one of the teammates said the players aren’t doing exactly what they’re asked to do, that’s all on them.
“I’m not an effort coach. If we’re coaching effort, we’re in trouble,” he added. “I’m not concerned about the effort.”