The Arizona Cardinals’ depth chart for Sunday’s game at St. Louis was unveiled Tuesday, but since today is my first day, I thought I’d give it a quick once over.
Not much really stood out with the exception of tight end. Rob Housler firmly owns one spot and Jim Dray is listed as the other starting tight end because Jeff King is on injured reserve with a knee injury. Dray is in his fourth season out of Stanford and has always been a slow-and-steady type of player. He looked bigger during training camp, which led to him having an impressive stay in Glendale -- good enough for Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to enlist him as a starter. He has seven career receptions for 87 yards, including two for 15 yards a season ago. Arians is known for using a two tight end set, but showed glimpses of three tight end packages during the preseason. Dray won’t be called upon to make the big catches -- that’ll be Housler’s job -- but Dray will be an important cog in the Cardinals’ blocking scheme.
A few other observations:
Ryan Williams is listed as second on the depth chart, ahead of Stepfan Taylor, Alfonso Smith and Andre Ellington. Smith was running as Rashard Mendenhall's backup when Williams was out with knee trouble during training camp, even running with the first team at times.
Daryn Colledge doesn’t have a listed backup at left guard, while rookie Earl Watford is Paul Fanaika’s sub on the right side. I wouldn’t have thought much about it and I had guessed that Watford is the swing guard, but linebacker Kevin Minter is listed behind inside linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Karlos Dansby.
This has surprised me since camp: Tyrann Mathieu is listed as the third punt returner behind Peterson and Arenas. We all know Peterson will be the main guy, but I think everyone’s expecting Mathieu to get a chance or two to return punts -- maybe even along side Peterson like Arians has hinted to in the past.
LG: Daryn Colledge
RG: Paul Fanaika, Earl Watford
TE: Jim Dray, Kory Sperry
RB: Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Alfonso Smith, Andre Ellington
TE: Rob Housler, D.C. Jefferson
NT: Dan Williams, Alameda Ta’amu
ILB: Jasper Brinkley, Kevin Minter
ILB: Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter
LCB: Patrick Peterson, Javier Arenas, Jamell Fleming
FS: Rashad Johnson, Tyrann Mathieu
K: Jay Feely
LS: Mike Leach
H: Dave Zastudil
KR: Javier Arenas, Alfonso Smith, Andre Ellington
PR: Patrick Peterson, Javier Arenas, Tyrann Mathieu