Cardinals’ Week 1 depth chart slots Josh Jones in as starting RG vs. Titans

Sep 7, 2021, 3:08 PM | Updated: 3:33 pm
Josh Jones #79 of the Arizona Cardinals participates in training camp activities at State Farm Stad...
Josh Jones #79 of the Arizona Cardinals participates in training camp activities at State Farm Stadium on August 23, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals released their first depth chart of the regular season on Tuesday.

And much like a lot of NFL depth charts during this time, the Cardinals certainly had some position decisions stand out more than others, starting with the offensive line.

While the line was pretty much solidified before training camp with D.J. Humphries, Justin Pugh, Rodney Hudson and Kelvin Beachum locked into their starting roles, the right guard spot has remained up for grabs.

Arizona finally provided some clarity, with the team opting for second-year pro Josh Jones at right guard over offseason signing Brian Winters and a trusted Justin Murray on the depth chart.

“Yeah it looks that way [that Jones will start]. Josh has come a long way in a short time,” Kingsbury told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Tuesday. “Didn’t get a lot of action last year.

“Had him more as a tackle, but this year have him transitioning to the guard position and has really handled himself well. He’ll continue to have his ups and downs as young players do but we like what we’ve seen so far.”

The trio had been competing for the starting job throughout training camp and into practice this week. Jones had a leg up on the competition, however, as his availability throughout camp kept him running with the first-team offense, while both Winters and Murray missed an extended period of time due to injury.

Winters is listed as Jones’ backup, with Murray slated behind Beachum at right tackle.

Sticking with the offensive side of the ball, it appears Jonathan Ward did enough to stay locked in as the team’s No. 3 running back ahead of Sun Devil product Eno Benjamin, according to the depth chart.

Both Ward and Benjamin came on strong in training camp, with the latter showing off his growth in the offense and in special teams.

Last season, Ward was used primarily as a special teamer but did find the end zone in the team’s season finale. Benjamin was a healthy scratch throughout the year.

There weren’t many surprises on the depth chart regarding the pass catchers, but there was an interesting tidbit revolving around the tight ends room. While Maxx Williams is listed as the team’s starting tight end, offseason signing Demetrius Harris has moved ahead of Darrell Daniels on the depth chart as Arizona’s backup option.

Defensively, the Cardinals stand pat with their initial depth chart in starting nose tackle Rashard Lawrence over Corey Peters, who was signed late this offseason and is coming off a season-ending knee injury.

The lineman has impressed this offseason after a nine-game, nine-tackle effort his rookie season in 2020.

And with Jordan Phillips’ recent move to the injured reserve, Lawrence will be joined alongside Zach Allen, who is listed as the No. 1 defensive tackle ahead of Leki Fotu.

Allen started seven of his 13 games played in 2020, recording 35 tackles, 2.0 sacks, six QB hits and three pass deflections.

At cornerback, Malcolm Butler’s sudden retirement elevates Robert Alford to a starting role opposite Byron Murphy on the depth chart. Marco Wilson sits behind Alford, while Luq Barcoo is listed as Murphy’s backup, followed by rookie Tay Gowan.

Arizona’s returning duties will be divvied between three players. Wide receiver Christian Kirk will man punt returns, with Benjamin and rookie Rondale Moore splitting kick returns, according to Tuesday’s depth chart.

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Cardinals’ Week 1 depth chart slots Josh Jones in as starting RG vs. Titans