NFC West: Dennis Keyes

Roster counts by position for NFC West
QB 4 4 4 4 3.7
RB 8 8 7 8 7.3
WR 11 12 10 10 10.3
TE 5 4 5 5 4.8
OL 15 14 15 14 13.8
DL 9 9 13 13 12.5
LB 12 12 9 9 10.3
DB 13 14 14 13 13.7
ST 3 4 3 4 3.7
Totals 80 81 80 80 80.0

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Cardinals signed former Browns receiver Steve Sanders and waived/injured safety Dennis Keyes, helping them get through practice while receivers Steve Breaston, Early Doucet and Michael Ray Garvin recover from injuries.

The chart shows current positional counts in the division, counting 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and other unsigned draft choices.

The Cardinals' potentially strengthened 3-4 leanings led me to list Bertrand Berry as an outside linebacker for now. That gives the two 3-4 teams in the division matching numbers at defensive line (nine apiece) and linebacker (12 apiece).

Keyes becomes eligible for injured reserve or an injury settlement once he clears waivers.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Cardinals have gotten dramatically younger at running back this offseason. Edgerrin James and Terrelle Smith are gone, leaving Tim Hightower and Dan Kreider as the only current Cardinals running backs with starting experience.

The team kept three halfbacks and two fullbacks on its Week 1 roster last season. Nine other teams also kept more than one fullback for the opener.

Hightower, Chris Wells, Jason Wright, Kreider and Tim Castille entered camp as the likely choices for those spots, should the team keep five. LaRod Stephens-Howling would have to significantly liven up the return game to earn a spot, most likely.

Arizona Cardinals Week 1 Roster Counts since 2003 QB RB WR TE OL DL LB DB ST
Fewest 2
4 5 2 8 5 6 7 2
Most 4 7 7 4 10 9 8 10 3
Average 3.0 5.3 6.0 3.2 8.8 7.7 7.0 8.8 2.8
Currently on roster
8 10 5 15 10 11 14 3

The chart provides a framework for how many players the Cardinals might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the 49ers.

Here's a quick look at which Cardinals players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players:

(Read full post)

Posted by's Mike Sando

A quick look at 53-man rosters from Feb. 1, date of Super Bowl XLIII, provides a reference point for seeing how NFC West teams have changed so far this offseason.

I'll continue with Arizona.

Gone from the Cardinals' 53-man roster and injured reserve list in the 58 days since the Super Bowl (9):


Pat Ross, C

J.J. Arrington, RB

Terrelle Smith, FB

Jerame Tuman, TE

Scott Peters, OL


Eric Green, CB

Monty Beisel, LB

Antonio Smith, DE

Special teams

Nathan Hodel, LS

(Read full post)

Cardinals DB Pos. Age Status
Ralph Brown
Adrian Wilson
29 Signed
Michael Adams
CB 27 Signed
Rod Hood
27 Signed
Keith Lewis
SS 27 Signed
Bryant McFadden
CB 27 Agreed
Eric Green
Antrel Rolle
FS 26 Signed
Matt Ware
FS 26 Signed
Aaron Francisco
FS 25 Signed
Wilrey Fontenot
CB 24 Signed
Dennis Keyes
FS 23 Signed
D. Rodgers-Cromartie
CB 22 Signed

Posted by's Mike Sando

Bryant McFadden gives the Cardinals a physical cornerback to pair opposite top cover man Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The improved depth also gives the Cardinals flexibility heading into the draft. Rodgers-Cromartie, McFadden and Rod Hood comprise a potentially strong top three at cornerback.

Here's the Scouts Inc. breakdown on McFadden, who joins the Cardinals from Pittsburgh as an unrestricted free agent:

McFadden has a strong well-defined body and adequate height. He plays the run well, is physical near the line of scrimmage and doesn't back down from a physical challenge. McFadden has decent instincts, plays th
e ball well and is a quick learner. He sees plays develop well and shows excellent competitiveness. He is a good tackler and gets his hands on the ball quite a bit.

His speed is just slightly above average and could be exposed against the faster wideouts in the league. His hip turn and change-of-direction skills are also just slightly above average, but he has very good body control and rarely takes false steps, which make up for some of his potential shortcomings. He can be overly aggressive at times going for the big play and will sometimes bite on double moves, although he has improved in this area.

McFadden is effective in press or off-coverage and may be at his best playing in a Cover 2, where he can stay close to the line of scrimmage and mix it up. He also does a nice job in off-coverage and sees the play develop in front of him well. He is a valuable member of the secondary, but needs to step up all areas of his game to be considered a solid starter. He also contributes on special teams and is a young player with an ample amount of upside..

The situation at cornerback has improved dramatically from one year ago. Rodgers-Cromartie became an emerging star as a rookie first-round draft choice. McFadden qualifies as a solid veteran. Hood is good enough to be part of the rotation, but now the Cardinals aren't counting on him to be a starter.

Practice-squad update: Cardinals

September, 1, 2008
Cardinals eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Cardinals Status
Calais CampbellDE53-man roster
Tim CastilleFB53-man roster
Dominique Rodgers-
CB53-man roster
Early DoucetWR53-man roster
Tim HightowerRB53-man roster
Kenny IwebemaWR53-man roster
Brandon KeithOL53-man roster
Ben PatrickTE53-man roster
Elliot Vallejo
53-man roster
Brian St. PierreQB53-man roster
Ali HighsmithLB53-man roster
Lance LongWRPractice Squad
Pat Ross
OLPractice Squad
Michael AdamsCBPractice Squad
Jason BanksDLPractice Squad
Keilen DykesDLPractice Squad
Onrea Jones
WRPractice Squad
Wilrey Fontenot
CBPractice Squad
Dennis KeyesSWaived
Carlton MedderOLWaived
Brent MillerTEWaived
DeMario MinterCBWaived
Anthony MorelliQBWaived
Alex ShorTEWaived
Chris VincentRBWaived
Travarous BainCBWaived
Steve BaylarkRBWaived
Peter CliffordOLWaived
Chris HarringtonLBWaived
Jasper HarveyOLWaived

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Cardinals' practice squad is coming together with the signing of seven players. One spot remains open. Five of the seven spent training camp with Arizona. Two others, receiver Onrea Jones and cornerback Wilrey Fontenot, were elsewhere.

The chart shows every Cardinals player with practice-squad eligibility.

Re-signing Pat Ross to the practice squad gives the Cardinals needed depth at the position. The team couldn't justify setting aside a spot on its 53-man roster for him, and that made sense. Ross isn't one of the Cardinals' 53 best players.

But with starting center Al Johnson sidelined for the short term, the team wasn't going to proceed with only Lyle Sendlein at the position.

The Cardinals
liked offensive lineman Elliot Vallejo's potential enough to carry him on the 53-man roster. They also thought linebacker Ali Highsmith, though undrafted, played well enough this summer to catch scouts' attention around the league.

This is the tough part for NFL teams. They tend to overvalue their own practice-squad-eligible prospects -- not enough to sign them to the 53-man roster, but enough to sweat the time it takes for these players to pass through waivers. The fear isn't justified most of the time.

Lance Long had a very good rookie camp for the Cardinals. No one signed him. Jamar Adams and Michael Bumpus had strong camps for Seattle. The 49ers like running back Thomas Clayton and receiver Dominique Zeigler.

Yet, these players made it through waivers. Other teams can sign them at any time, but teams get comfortable with their own players. They rarely sign players from another team's practice squad. When they do, it's usually a short-term fix.

Practice-squad report: Cardinals

August, 29, 2008
Cardinals eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Probable Status
Calais CampbellDEKeeper
Tim CastilleFBKeeper
Dominique Rodgers-CromartieCBKeeper
Early DoucetWRKeeper
Tim HightowerRBKeeper
Kenny IwebemaWRKeeper
Brandon KeithOLKeeper
Ben PatrickTEKeeper
Pat RossCKeeper
Brian St. PierreQBKeeper
Ali HighsmithLBBubble
Dennis KeyesSBubble
Lance LongWRBubble
Carlton MedderOLLikely cut
Brent MillerTELikely cut
Demario MinterCBLikely cut
Anthony MorelliQBLikely cut
Alex ShorTELikely cut
Elliot VallejoOLLikely cut
Chris VincentRBLikely cut
Michael AdamsCBLikely cut
Travarous BainCBLikely cut
Jason BanksDLLikely cut
Steve BaylarkRBLikely cut
Peter CliffordOLLikely cut
Keilen DykesDLLikely cut
Chris HarringtonLBLikely cut
Jasper HarveyOLLikely cut

Posted by's Mike Sando

The chart shows each of the Cardinals' players with practice-squad eligibility, according to the team.

Practice-squad rules can be confusing, and exceptions sometimes apply to relatively experienced players. Brian St. Pierre has been around longer than most players with eligibility. He'll make the 53-man roster, though, so the practice squad won't be an issue for him.

I've categorized each player based on his perceived likelihood of earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Those are rough characterizations. Teams still have not made decisions. It's conceivable that a player listed as a "keeper" could face his release.

As noted: Rosters spots are serious business for NFL players lacking job security. For some, the next 30 hours or so will determine whether they'll earn $17,352.94 per week or whatever the real world pays.

The minimum NFL salary is $295,000. Players get paid in 17 installments, one for every week they spend as a paid member of the organization.

NFL teams must trim rosters from 75 players to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Teams can establish eight-man practice squads beginning Sunday. Practice-squad players earn a minimum of $5,200 per week during the regular season and playoffs.

Once a player signs with a practice squad, he can practice with the team. He becomes eligible to play in games only if a team signs him to its 53-man roster. Practice-squad players are free to sign with any team's active roster at any time during the season.