Cardinals ready to hunker down, finalize regular season roster
TEMPE, Ariz. — There are several filters the Arizona Cardinals will be using to view and then mold their 53-man roster over the next week.
They must hear out the medical staff to understand injuries and recovery timelines for players on the PUP and IR. General manager Steve Keim must hear out coaches, who have intimate knowledge of how players take in and spit out information within position groups.
“There’s a number of things that go into this, a lot of moving parts this time of the year,” Keim told Doug & Wolf Friday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “Do I want to say I have a good feel for it? I do, but at the same time, there are things you cannot forecast.”
Arizona needs to slice its roster to 53 players by 1 p.m. Saturday, but that’s when the work only gets more intense. With top priority on the waiver wire, the Cardinals can add players released by the 31 other NFL teams.
They’ll have a day to make those decisions.
The good news is they’ve already begun projecting who might be available by scouring the rosters across the league. Nonetheless, surprises are part of the deal.
Already Friday, the Oakland Raiders released Brandon Marshall, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. As a veteran linebacker who Arizona had interest in as a free agent earlier this offseason, according to 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro, would the Cardinals be interested in adding depth?
That could make a current roster lock, likely a younger player, expendable. Does that younger player have upside? Were they expected to contribute on special teams?
In any case, Arizona must consider whether it wants to retain a less talented player who knows the systems that have been installed since January. Can a new player, even if more talented, quickly make up for lost time?
“They have to drastically improve what we have because you have guys who you invested six months of coaching and installations,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Friday, “and so if they’re not a dramatic improvement, then it’s going to be hard to make a move.”
Keim said that he views the 53-man roster cut more as a cutdown to 63 players because of the 10 players on the practice squad.
“I don’t view that as a practice squad, I view that as the next-man-up squad,” he said.
Problem is, the Cardinals are at risk of losing their projected practice squad bodies as other teams scour the waiver wire.
Take the quarterback position as an example: Kingsbury confirmed that Arizona will take only Kyler Murray and Brett Hundley onto the 53-man roster, leaving Drew Anderson and Charles Kanoff vulnerable to be poached.
“In my head and in talking to Steve, we’d like to have a young guy we feel like we can develop, to have a role moving forward,” Kingsbury said. “If something were to happen, we could activate him and then feel confident we could execute some plays.”
Arizona will go through the tedious process of a first round of releases before scouting available players and then cutting and claiming their replacements, which could leak into Monday. And by that time, it’ll be game week with preparations for the Detroit Lions in focus.
Here are other newsworthy tidbits from Kingsbury’s press conference on Friday.
— Several notable fringe starters or backups didn’t play Thursday against the Broncos, and Kingsbury vaguely suggested that was because they will make the 53-man roster.
“I would assume the vast majority (will make the team),” he said.
Among those players were receiver Damiere Byrd, backup inside linebacker Joe Walker, tight end Darrell Daniels and tight end Maxx Williams.
— Kingsbury announced that A.Q. Shipley will be the Cardinals’ starting center. The team still greatly values backup center Mason Cole’s versatility.
“We feel like Mason is very valuable at a number of positions, whether it’s center or guard. He can get us through a game at tackle, even,” Kingsbury said. “He’s maybe the most valuable O-lineman we have.”
— As for if Murray learned anything on the sideline Thursday as Kingsbury directed a bland offense for the final time this preseason: “Last night, probably some new curse words. I don’t think much in what we were doing. I thought he was locked in. He was good with his teammates, trying to be supportive.”
— Kingsbury expressed more optimism that inside linebacker Haason Reddick could play in Week 1 against Detroit.
“I think he has a chance. I don’t know to what extent playing-time wise, but I feel like he’s moved around better and better, and if that continues, and we don’t have setbacks, I could see there being a role,” the head coach said. “From the development I’ve seen in his rehab process, he has a chance to play some.”Array