The Initial Roster

facebooktwitterreddit has come out with the Cards initial roster based off of off-season workouts, voluntary mini-camp, and the 2006 season. No real surprises here:

Defense (3-4 set)
Darnell Dockett
Alan Branch/Gabe Watson
Antonio Smith
Bertrand Berry
Chike Okeafor
Gerald Hayes
Karlos Dansby
Adrian Wilson
Terrence Holt
Antrelle Rolle
Rod Hood/Eric Green

The transition to the 3-4 defense will present some obstacles for Defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast in 2007. Typically, the 3-4 scheme utilizes speedy, athletic linebackers and rush ends to create a ton of different blitz packages to put pressure on the opposing QB. Pendergast is widely regarded as a blitzing mastermind, devising numerous packages that confuse the offense and create openings for SS Adrian Wilson or LB Karlos Dansby. But probably the most important position in the 3-4, the outside LB/DE, is the weakest for the Cards. Berry and Okeafor are very capable pass rushers and Berry has shown flashes of his 2004 Pro Bowl form, but making the jump from DE to stand up OLB is no easy task. Plus, Berry has struggled to stay healthy the past two seasons and both are getting older. AZ lacks quality depth at this position, so both of them will really have to avoid any type of injuries for the Cards to have a consistent defensive force. The Secondary is much improved with the addition of Terrence Holt and Rod Hood, who both add veteran leadership and excellent playmaking abilities. It may be rough going at first for the defense and the offense may just have to win a few shootouts, but the 3-4 will let them get after the QB more and the Cards have a good group of young guys who will develop into a quality unit.

Matt Leinart
Edgerrin James
Terrelle Smith (FB)
Anquan Boldin
Larry Fitzgerald
Leonard Pope
Mike Gandy (LT)
Reggie Wells (LG)
Al Johnson (C)
Deuce Lutui (RG)
Oliver Ross (RT)

Some of you out there may be wondering: Hey, where is Levi Brown on this roster? I know, I was wondering the same thing, but let’s remember he is a rookie. While it is tempting to just throw him on the first team, he needs to get the pace of the pro game for now, but that won’t take long. Also, when the Cards camp starts on July 27, they’ll all be strapping on the pads for the first time…..then we’ll see how long it takes for Brown to crack the first team. The biggest question marks entering this season will be the ground game and the TE position. Russ Grimm coaching a revamped O-Line and the drafting of Levi Brown will pay huge dividends, but the biggest adjustment will be a two back system with Terrelle Smith leading the way for Edge. Whisenhunt wants to pound the ball and he’s brought in some quality players at FB to provide a solid lead blocker for James. The TE position has to produce this year, with Pope coming into his second year with the team. The Cards may have gotten the steal of the draft with TE Ben Patrick, but so far he’s been nursing a hamstring injury and has been unable to showcase his skills. Pope has enormous athletic talent, but his run-blocking is suspect. If he can improve on his blocking skills and combine that with his excellent athleticism and soft hands, then he could be a tremendous weapon. Bottom Line: this unit is stacked with quality depth at the skill positions, it’s their time to shine.

This team has always had high expectations, but this year more than ever………..they are WELL DESERVED. It’s 2007: the year of the Cardinal!!!!

Mike Duggan