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Not revealing much, Cardinals GM Keim talks preseason standouts

Wide receiver Damiere Byrd #14 of the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers at State Farm Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim didn’t want to make too many predictions about which borderline players will survive the team’s roster cutdown to 53 players on Saturday.

He knows things could change and releases could be made depending on surprise players available on the waiver-wire.

However, while joining Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday morning, Keim wasn’t afraid to discuss a few fringe roster players who impressed during training camp.

Byrd might’ve done enough at WR

Receivers Damiere Byrd, Pharoh Cooper and Trent Sherfield were in competition to be the sixth and seventh receivers on Arizona’s roster. Whether the Cardinals will carry six or seven isn’t known, but Keim did go as far as saying Byrd, who did not play in the preseason finale Thursday, did all he could to earn a place on the Cardinals roster.

“It’s always hard for me to answer right now … but I will say this about Damiere Byrd, is he’s certainly earned the right to play in the National Football League and I think he had a great preseason,” Keim said. “You saw the speed that he brings to the table in Minnesota, his ability to uncover in the vertical game. He’s made a lot of improvements this offseason. I credit (receivers coach) David Raih and (offensive assistant) Jerry Sullivan for his growth.”

Comfortable about the line?

A day after Arizona officially traded potential swing tackle Korey Cunningham to the New England Patriots for a sixth-round pick in 2020, Keim said he still feels good about the offensive line depth through “seven or eight” players.

“Just the opportunity presented itself and coach (Bill) Belichick reached out to me and we were able to get a deal done,” Keim said. “I think that, you know, again, there’s a lot of things that go into this weekend. We feel pretty confident that we’ll have the 53 that we’ll be excited about.”

Asked if there was one player who looked well outside that top 53 players on the roster who might have forced his way onto the roster, Keim named another offensive linemen.

“I think there’s a number of guys that have earned the right to be here, that have grown and gotten better and proved their worth,” he said. “I think one that stands out to me is a guy like Jeremy Vujnovich, who has been here for a year-and-a-half or so, but he has really had a good preseason.

“I think the way he’s played at guard, he’s earned the right to be here. The way his work ethic and athleticism has stuck out this offseason.”

Walker sounds like the No. 3 ILB

Another player who didn’t appear in the preseason finale against the Broncos was inside linebacker Joe Walker.

The Cardinals will certainly start Jordan Hicks at inside linebacker, but Walker could be alongside him if Haason Reddick isn’t 100% by the Sept. 8 regular season opener against Detroit.

“I will say Haason Reddick is back practicing and he’s doing well,” Keim said. “We’re excited about where he is. Jordan Hicks has been a great addition in my opinion. Joe Walker has done a great job. He’s a steady-Eddy player that has really good instincts and knowledge of the game. We feel good about that position.”

Keim also mentioned the depth of Dennis Gardeck and Zeke Turner behind Walker, but right now, it appears Walker could get first reps ahead of that duo.

Thompson and Thompson

Keim added that it felt safe to say the backup safety duo of rookies Deionte Thompson and Jalen Thompson will make the roster.

Doug & Wolf

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