David Blough, Clement among Cardinals who improved stock in win vs. Vikings
Aug 26, 2023, 4:00 PM
(AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
A number of Arizona Cardinals did not suit up for the team’s preseason finale win over the Minnesota Vikings, seemingly confirming their spots on the initial 53-man roster.
Those taking in the action from the sideline included: Cornerback Kei’Trel Clark, wide receiver Michael Wilson, offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. and quarterback Colt McCoy, among others.
But with a lot of Arizona’s projected starters not in uniform, there was opportunity aplenty for those looking to make one last push to improve their roster position, either with the Cardinals or the other 31 NFL teams, days before final cutdown day on Tuesday.
“I thought everybody that played in that game, in the second half, too, didn’t have any quit in them,” Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon told Paul Calvisi and Jay Feely postgame. “The effort was good.”
With Arizona’s preseason slate now a thing of the past, let’s take a look at those who might make roster decisions a little more difficult for Cardinals general manager Jonathan Gannon and Gannon:
QB David Blough
Let’s lead off this exercise with the quarterback who helped orchestrate a pair of comeback wins this preseason.
Blough scored both of Arizona’s touchdowns Saturday, one through the air and another on the ground. He completed 11 of his 22 passes for 93 yards through more than a half of football.
The veteran QB has fallen in behind Colt McCoy and Clayton Tune this training camp and preseason, and following Arizona’s acquisition of Josh Dobbs, could now be fourth on the depth chart with what looks like three spots up for grabs.
But after his two-touchdown performance in Saturday’s 18-17 win over the Vikings, did he make enough of a case to garner a roster spot in Arizona?
RB Corey Clement
With Keaontay Ingram getting the starting nod and James Conner given the night off, it appears the second-year pro is the leader in the clubhouse for the RB2 role.
That’s not to say, however, that Clement didn’t make his case Saturday afternoon.
Getting the bulk of the carries, Clement finished with 79 yards on 14 carries (5.6-yard average). He added two receptions for five yards.
Clement brings another veteran presence to a RBs room that also includes Ty’Son Williams, Emari Demercado and Stevie Scott.
OLB Jesse Luketa
Luketa sees his name pop up on this list due to the fact that he play everywhere on Saturday, further proving his versatility.
The linebacker started as a linebacker, got run as a fullback and served as a special teamer throughout the matchup. He was also the only Cardinal to take part in the pregame coin flip.
He made an impact offensively, making a couple of standout blocks to help move the chains. He also made a catch, though it was nullified due to a holding call.
“Anybody that makes this team, they got to add value to the team so however you can do that is a positive in their hat,” Gannon told Calvisi and Feely.
WR Davion Davis
Remember that Blough touchdown? Davis was on the receiving end of Arizona’s first and only passing touchdown of the day.
The wide receiver paced Cardinals pass catchers in receiving yards (43), was third in receptions (three) and added the 26-yard score.
“Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do it down to the smallest detail. They’re going to get a warrior. I’m doing this for my son, for my grandma, for my wife. Just going out there and playing every play like it’s my last.”
Davis has an uphill climb to crack a roster spot, with Hollywood Brown, Michael Wilson, Rondale Moore, Zach Pascal and Greg Dortch ahead of him on the depth chart.
TE Noah Togiai
He may be known as a blocking tight end, but Togiai showed off his hands this preseason.
Saturday was no different, with Togiai reeling in a team-high four catches for 27 yards.
He is on the cusp of securing a roster spot behind Zach Ertz, Trey McBride and Geoff Swaim.
DL Dante Stills
Stills was among more of the quieter standouts as he worked his way into more playing time this preseason.
He wrapped up the exhibition slate with a sack, three tackles, one of which was for a loss, a QB hit, a pass defensed and an extended look.
The defensive line has had good competition throughout training camp and Stills certainly saw his stock tick in the right direction on Saturday.
OL Lecitus Smith
Injuries suck but are a part of the NFL as we saw Saturday.
Getting his first start of the preseason, rookie center Jon Gaines II saw just one offensive snap before leaving the game with a knee injury.
Hayden Howerton took over soon after, but it was Smith who got the bulk of the center snaps on Saturday.
Getting some added center reps on tape could go a long way for Smith, who can also move over to guard if need be.
OLB Zach McCloud
Last but not least is McCloud, who paced the Cardinals defense with three sacks against the Vikings and gave me shades of 2022 preseason standout Chandler Wooten.
Joining Arizona’s ranks this past Tuesday, McCloud is very much a wild card with cutdown day looming.
“He was ready to go. I’m sure he wants some plays back … but I thought his energy was really good and he wants to play football,” Gannon told Calvisi and Feely. “It’s good to see.”
The Cardinals may not keep McCloud on the 53-man roster, but his performance could lead other teams to inquire about his services. There’s also the practice squad to consider.