Arizona Cardinals’ 1st official depth chart includes a few surprises
Aug 10, 2021, 6:07 PM | Updated: Aug 11, 2021, 11:51 am
The Arizona Cardinals released their first official depth chart of the season on Monday.
Granted, it’s the first week of preseason football and these should be taken with a grain of salt, there were a few things that stuck out in the first iteration, starting with the offensive line.
The core four of D.J. Humphries (left tackle), Justin Pugh (left guard), Rodney Hudson (center) and Kelvin Beachum (right tackle) remain locked into their starting roles. There is, however, the question at right guard.
While Justin Murray is slated to start at the position, the lineman has been dealing with a minor issue this training camp, giving way for Josh Jones to run with the first team. Jones has made the most of those opportunities, gaining more and more trust from his coaches and players in the process.
But instead of the second-year lineman starting or backing up the right guard spot, Jones is second on the depth chart at right tackle, a position he hasn’t really played since early on in camp.
“I’ll take every rep, no matter if it’s right tackle, right guard, whatever they put me in,” Jones said Tuesday. “I take that rep as a chance to get better.”
As for the backup left tackle spot, that is filled by Josh Miles, who running game coordinator and offensive line coach Sean Kugler hailed as the most improved Cardinal in the group.
Speaking of the running game, the Cardinals’ two-headed attack of Chase Edmonds and James Conner lead the way, followed by Jonathan Ward and Eno Benjamin.
Both Ward and Benjamin have shown flashes throughout camp, with the latter coming on strong as of late. Benjamin has yet to see any NFL game action after being a healthy scratch for all of 2020, but is earning early praise from his coaches on his upped play and has also gotten time with the special teams unit as a returner and gunner.
Turning our attention to the pass catchers, the depth chart may have actually added a little more clarity to the situation.
Rookie Rondale Moore came on strong to start training camp, producing a big play nearly every day, while also getting some run as a return man.
That left many to wonder just where the rookie would fit in a wide receiver room that included third-year wideout Andy Isabella.
But while the duo share a similar stature and a special teams role, head coach Kliff Kingsbury last week squashed the notion that they were fighting for the same roster spot.
“Andy’s a guy who really majored in playing outside in college. He can play inside as well,” Kingsbury said Thursday.
“And then Rondale is pretty much the opposite. He’s more of an inside guy, punt returner, kick returner, trick play guy, get the ball to him in space in as many ways as you can.”
The depth chart doubled down on the head coach’s remarks, with Moore backing up Christian Kirk in the slot, and Isabella slated behind A.J. Green out wide.
The trio of Kirk, Isabella and Moore are also in the return game mix. Kirk will field kicks, while Isabella will return punts. Moore is listed as the backup to both.
KeeSean Johnson, another wide receiver looking to improve in Year 3, finds himself working behind No. 1 wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
KeeSean Johnson making some plays today with the first team. pic.twitter.com/xzsa8s9zf4
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) August 10, 2021
Defensively, the starting lineup is mostly to be expected, with rookie Zaven Collins quarterbacking the unit as the team’s starting MIKE linebacker.
Along the defensive line, however, there’s a noticeable name missing the starting group in Corey Peters. Instead, Rashard Lawrence, who has missed the past two days of practice, holds the No. 1 spot.
Although Peters is considered second string, his spot on the depth chart could be on account of his recent signing and the team easing in the nose tackle coming off a season-ending patellar tendon tear in 2020.
In the secondary, the cornerbacks’ pecking order has Malcolm Butler and Byron Murphy in the team’s starting roles, with Robert Alford and Darqueze Dennard backing up the pair.
Rookie corner Marco Wilson is third behind Dennard, while 2021 sixth-round pick Tay Gowan is slated fourth on the opposite side.