The Arizona Cardinals will square off against the Denver Broncos this Friday, and it will be our first chance to see some dynamic rookies, fan favorites, and players who could wind up winning a starting role. But we will also see fringe players who are trying to remain relevant and avoid receiving the dreaded walking papers.
Yesterday, we talked about three players to keep an eye on because of the likelihood that they can either win a starting job, or at least play a significant role on the team this season. Today, we are talking about the opposite: Three players who must enjoy a good performance just to stay relevant.
Which players made this undesirable shortlist? One is a high-potential player who looks more than ever like the odd man out. Another put together at least a serviceable season in 2022, but he’s understandably losing the fanbase’s patience. The third player is probably a lock to make the team, but he will likely see a limited role without solid in-game performances.
3 Arizona Cardinals who MUST turn in a good performance in Preseason Week 1
1 - Ty’Son Williams, RB
One of my high-potential, oft-ignored players, Ty’Son Williams’ uphill climb got steeper with Marlon Mack coming to town and already delivering good returns. Williams has experience in run-first offenses and he played well when given a chance in 2021, but he’s neither an RB1 nor an RB2 with James Conner and Mack in the desert.
Further, Corey Clement’s ability to play special teams gives him an edge over Williams. This leaves the third-year back to likely fight to be the fourth running back with Keaontay Ingram and Emari Demercado.
2 - Leki Fotu, DT
I had Leki Fotu listed as one of three former draft picks from the old Steve Keim era who could be handed their walking papers during final cuts. Despite finding at least serviceable production last season, Fotu is battling with Rashard Lawrence, an upstart rookie in Dante Stills, a former first round pick in L.J. Collier, and a solid role player in Carlos Watkins.
Of the players listed above, Fotu is probably the one taking a back seat, leaving him to potentially battle for a bottom-tier roster spot. The upside is that Fotu showed flashes last season, and if he shows a few more vs. Denver, it will help him make a case to stick around.
3 - Josh Woods, LB
A dynamic special teams player, Josh Woods is a lock to make the 53-man roster, barring some unforeseen dip in his play. But Woods can also be more than a special teamer in the desert thanks to the vacancy next to Kyzir White.
While Woods has been seeing reps with the First Team lately, he is still fringe when it comes to winning the starting job, with the intriguing Krys Barnes and Owen Pappoe also in the mix. Woods has seen limited success playing defense, so if he shows growth this week, he could gain more of an edge in winning the starting job.