Arizona Cardinals: The Defensive Side
When it comes to the players on the Cardinals defense, the front seven`s first and second strings are pretty much a lock, but the secondary is another story. The starters for the front should look like this, Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams, Calais Campbell, Sam Acho, Kevin Minter, Larry Foote, and John Abraham. The back ups are Kareem Martin, Alameda Ta`amu, Frostee Rucker, Alex Okafor, Lorenzo Alexander, Ernie Sims, and Matt Shaughnessy. Alexander is going to fill in at inside linebacker and may even become a starter.
With the secondary, the starters are Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie, and Tyrann Mathieu. Deone Bucannon will most likely be the starting strong safety, but I don`t believe he will be on the field during passing plays in the beginning. With the back up players, I’m looking forward to see who finishes where.
On the line, there are rookies tackles Bruce Gaston out of Purdue and Justin Renfrow from Miami. There is Anthony McCloud who has no playing info and Christian Tupou who`s played five games for the Chicago Bears. Will one of these four beat out Ta`amu? Will one be good enough to earn a spot on the roster backing up Ta`amu? Or will it be like last year and the Cardinals go forward with only Williams and Ta`amu?
At end, there is only Ed Stinson, a rookie out of Alabama. Stinson, selected in the fifth round back in May. He is known to play anywhere on the line, even at linebacker. He will be on the roster this season, only will he get any playing time? I can see Bruce Arians bringing in some more bodies here, just not sure if anyone else will make the team.
At outside linebacker, there is Marcus Benard and Adrian Tracy. Benard played in 12 games for the Cardinals, but did`nt do much. Tracy last played in 2012 for the New York Giants. He played all 16 games getting 12 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. If Alexander get moved back to the outside, neither one of these guys might not make the team.
At inside, there is Keenan Clayton, a fourth year player who has a ton of up side for being a back up to the back ups. I would look for him making this team and may even move Alexander back to outside. There is also last years practice squad players, Kenny Demens and Jo Jo Dickson. Following them are rookies Jonathon Brown from Illinois and Glenn Carson Penn St. Look for both these guys to give Demens and Dickson a run for their money. I would think this years inside depth will be deep looking for a replacement for Daryl Washington or just added depth for the future.
Returning at cornerback is Justin Bethel, Jarraud Powers, and Bryann McCann. Following them are Eddie Whitley from the Philadelphia Eagles (no playing info) and rookies Jimmy Legree from South Carolina, Brandon Sermons from UCLA, and Todd Washington from Southeast Louisiana. I can see Bethel making the roster and the other six, anything could happen. I would expect to see more bodies being brought in here. I can`t wait to see how this unit turns out.
In the defensive backfield is free safety Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson. Will both make the roster again this year? Will Jefferson finally take over as back up or will Johnson continue as the number two-man? Finally, strong safety. Returning is Curtis Taylor who only played one game last year. Following them are Orhian Johnson from the Houston Texans (no playing info) and Anthony Walters who played 33 games for the Bears. This is the biggest position for a decent back up with Bucannon being a rookie. I would also expect to see some more bodies brought in.
Even with the loss of Washington and Karlos Dansby, the front seven will be just fine. The Cardinals biggest problem last year was the secondary. The starters are in place and the biggest concerns now is finding the back ups. Unless someone impresses from the start, look for bodies to shuffle throughout camp. I can`t wait to see who will make up the secondary unit starting week one.