- Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Examining the Arizona Cardinals' roster. The roster has changed in a few ways in the past week.
Arizona will carry two active quarterbacks -- Palmer and Stanton -- again this season. Thomas likely will spend all 16 games on the bench. He’s the future of the position for the Cardinals, so he’ll be given plenty of time to learn from the sideline but won’t see the field unless there’s an emergency.
RUNNING BACK (4)
This will be Ellington’s year to star as the other three will be his backup singers. Taylor and Dwyer will battle it out for the second running back spot, while Hughes might end up being a bruising third-down and short-yardage back.
WIDE RECEIVER (5)
The top three positions are set at receiver, and John Brown and his speed will see plenty of snaps. Jaron Brown has been playing more than worthy of roster spot and he can play special teams, which adds to his value.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
The center and left side of the line are pretty much set unless Cooper doesn’t return to camp at 100 percent. The right side seems to be pretty much set with Massie and Fanaika. Starks will be a good swing tackle, while Watford will be the swing guard and Larsen the backup center and third-string guard.
TIGHT END (4)
The top three are basically guaranteed to make the roster at this point, especially after Jake Ballard's retirement. Darren Fells is the front runner heading into the third week of camp to be the fourth tight end, but he'll have to improve on his performance in the Cards' first preseason game.
DEFENSIVE LINE (7)
Alameda Ta'amu (injured)
Why fix the defensive line if it’s not broken? Statistically speaking, the line was the best in the NFL last year, and adding Martin and Stinson will only make it better. Williams and Ta’amu will continue to rotate, and the two rookies will earn their stripes eventually. Rucker is a premium backup.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5)
As camp has progressed, outside linebacker has worked itself out. Shaughnessy's job is his to lose and Acho and Okafor have been playing as well as anyone could expect coming off injuries. And Benard continues to fly under the radar and be a quiet yet productive contributor. Abraham still hasn't reported to camp but his job is being held until he proves he can't do it one way or the other.
INSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
Inside linebacker is pretty much set with this quartet. Ernie Sims is out of the question after being cut and nobody has really challenged Minter and Foote as starters. Demens may overtake that spot later but for now, he's playing well as a backup.
Peterson and Cromartie are the starters. Powers is the nickel cornerback. Bethel will be in on dime situations. McCann and Williams will be backups and contribute on special teams. It's as simple as that.
Jefferson is playing like a man focused on being a starter in 2014 and Johnson continues to be steady. Bucannon is learning the position and has become a vital contribuator as the nickel linebacker.
Zastudil has been steady and strong the past few seasons, and this year shouldn’t be any different.
Catanzaro took the lead in the competitive race to be Arizona's kicker on Saturday with a series of booming kickoffs. As long as he can continue making his field goals and extra points while booting his kicks out of the end zone, the job will be his to lose.
Leach, who is as consistent as they come in the Cardinals’ locker room, will be their long-snapper until he either says it’s time to retire or he can’t walk anymore. Whichever comes first.