The quarterback battle between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton has stolen most of the headlines, but there are plenty of battles for roster spots ongoing at Cardinals camp, most notably at linebacker, receiver and defensive back. The Cards have some tough decisions to make and, as defensive coordinator Ray Horton noted, some NFL-ready personnel will be cut loose in the coming weeks. Here’s our preliminary take on how it will shake down.
QB -- In: (3) Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley. Out: Richard Bartel. Analysis: The battle for the starting QB job will come down to the final week of the preseason between Kolb and Skelton, but the battle for the No. 3 spot will be just as interesting. The Cards took a flier in the sixth round on Lindley because of his size (6-feet-4, 230 pounds) and arm. It’s possible they could keep him on the practice squad (if he clears waivers) but coach Ken Whisenhunt isn’t fond of that move, reasoning that there aren’t enough practice reps for three quarterbacks, let alone four. That could spell doom for Bartel.
RB -- In: (5) Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Alfonso Smith, Javarris James, Anthony Sherman (FB). Out: William Powell, Thomas Clayton. Analysis: With Wells’ injury history and both he and Williams coming off knee surgeries, the Cards will keep five at this position as insurance. James has been hampered by an abductor strain in camp but impressed in mini-camp and OTAs. Smith is a durable depth back.
WR -- In: (6) Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Michael Floyd, DeMarco Sampson, Jaymar Johnson. Out: Stephen Williams, Isaiah Williams, LaRon Byrd. Analysis: Floyd will be brought along slowly, but his development will obviously add a major piece to the passing game and relieve some pressure on Fitzgerald. It will also allow Roberts and Doucet to assume lesser roles more suited to their abilities. The Cards drafted Sampson last season and he’s had a decent camp. They also like Johnson’s deep speed which could mean the end for Stephen Williams, who doesn’t play special teams. Byrd is a candidate for the practice squad.
TE -- In: (4) Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray. Out: Steve Skelton, Martell Webb. Analysis: King hasn’t practiced yet this offseason due to a quadriceps injury, but he should be ready for the opener. The Cards like what Heap and Housler can provide in the passing game and Heap has proved a more capable blocker than the Cards expected. Dray is a solid blocker, but hasn’t developed the rest of his skills. It’s a numbers game at this position.
OL -- In (8): Levi Brown, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Jeremy Bridges, Bobby Massie, D’Anthony Batiste, Senio Kelemete. Out: Nate Potter, Russ Hochstein, Rich Ohrnberger, Chris Stewart, Scott Wedige, D.J. Young. Veteran depth is a major concern along the line, with Kelemete and Massie both rookies and Batiste inexperienced. Young and Potter are candidates for the practice squad.
LB -- In (9): O’Brien Schofield, Daryl Washington, Paris Lenon, Sam Acho, Reggie Walker, Stewart Bradley, Clark Haggans, Quentin Groves, Brandon Williams. Out: Quan Sturdivant, Antonio Coleman, Colin Parker. Analysis: The Cards have depth at every one of their linebacker positions now and Bradley can play both inside and outside. Even with the need for linebackers on special teams, that fact could land Sturdivant, a 2011 draft pick, on the practice squad for a second straight year. The heady Parker could join him there, but is still a longshot to make this team.
DB – In (9): Patrick Peterson, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, William Gay, Greg Toler, Jamell Fleming, Michael Adams, Rashad Johnson, Justin Bethel. Out: A.J. Jefferson, James Sanders, Marshay Green, Blake Gideon, Eddie Elder, Larry Parker, James Nixon, Crezdon Butler. Analysis: The Cards have a glut of cornerbacks competing for the starting spot opposite Peterson. DC Ray Horton wants a large group, given the rampant injuries that occur at this position, but there are still NFL-capable personnel here who will be cut like Jefferson. Bethel could be a candidate for the practice squad, but with his speed and the plays he’s already made on special teams, it’s questionable whether he’d ever clear waivers to make it there.
Special teams -- In (3): Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Mike Leach. Out: Ricky Schmitt. Analysis: The Cards are set here with their punter (Zastudil), kicker (Feely and long snapper (Leach) all returning, along with PR Patrick Peterson and KR LaRod Stephens-Howling.
For more news and analysis from Cardinals blogger Craig Morgan, follow @CBSSportsNFLARI on Twitter.