NFL Nation: Larry Parker

Arizona Cardinals cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
8:44
PM ET
Most significant move: Clark Haggans failed to make the cut after five-plus seasons with the Cardinals. He could always re-sign at some point if the Cardinals need depth at outside linebacker. He'll be cheaper at that time, given that veteran contracts become guaranteed once a player is on the roster for Week 1.

For now, though, the Cardinals are moving forward with Quentin Groves as a primary backup behind starters Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield at outside linebacker. Brandon Williams was thought to be part of that mix as well, but the Cardinals waived him with an injury designation, citing a shoulder problem. Williams will revert to injured reserve unless the Cardinals reach an injury settlement with him. A settlement would allow Williams to sign with Arizona or another team once he's healthy.

It's a good sign, ultimately, that Arizona feels good enough about its outside linebackers to proceed without the 35-year-old Haggans. After a certain point, every team should develop enough young depth to threaten older, declining players. In this case, however, I'm not sure Arizona has a viable replacement for him. Groves showed promise, but he has zero sacks over the past three seasons.

Onward and upward: None of the players released by Arizona jumps out to me as someone sure to catch on elsewhere. That is because the Cardinals found a way to keep 11 defensive backs, including all their best corners. Had A.J. Jefferson or Michael Adams hit the market, both would have attracted interest. The same would have been true for Greg Toler, most likely.

Crezdon Butler, Antonio Coleman, Blake Gideon, Russ Hochstein, Ricky Lumpkin, Colin Parker, Larry Parker, DeMarco Sampson, Alfonso Smith, Quan Sturdivant, Ronald Talley, Everrette Thompson, Martell Webb, Scott Wedige, Isaiah Williams and D.J. Young were released. No big surprises there. Haggans could catch on somewhere.

Quarterback Rich Bartel landed on injured reserve, as did running back Javarris James. Stephen Williams was waived/injured with an Achilles' injury.

What's next: The Cardinals could use help at offensive tackle and outside linebacker. They decided against designating Levi Brown as a player eligible to return from injured reserve later in the season. That means Brown will not return from his torn triceps until next season. D'Anthony Batiste heads toward the season as the projected starter at left tackle. Another candidate, Young, struggled during preseason and received his release Friday.

The Cardinals are paying for missing on 2009 second-round choice Cody Brown, an outside linebacker. They're counting on Acho and Schofield to carry the full load, but there's little depth behind them. Schofield must prove he's durable in a full-time role after recovering from a career-threatening knee injury.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The focus on offensive tackles and quarterbacks intensified Monday as the Arizona Cardinals held their first full practice since facing Oakland on Friday night.

Left tackle Levi Brown's potentially season-ending triceps injury forced the Cardinals to consider contingencies. Meanwhile, John Skelton worked at quarterback with the starting offense, with Kevin Kolb getting second-team reps as part of their rotation.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt has announced no timetable for naming a starting quarterback for the regular season. Skelton will get the start Thursday against Tennessee.

A few notess and observations from practice at Northern Arizona University:
  • The offensive linemen generally held up well in one-on-one pass-rush drills. A somewhat slippery surface might have worked against the defensive players, however. Tackle D.J. Young, a player the Cardinals are auditioning at left tackle in Brown's extended absence, split matchups against linebacker Antonio Coleman. D'Anthony Batiste, another candidate at tackle, held up well in two of three matchups with Sam Acho, one of the Cardinals' better pass-rushers. I thought Batiste fared well against Quentin Groves as well. Rookie Bobby Massie, a potential starter on the right side, seemed to do well enough in two of the four matchups I watched. He split with Acho. Clark Haggans gave him trouble. Coaches are surely grading on the finer points. I was watching to see if offensive linemen got beat.
  • Young, undrafted from Michigan State in 2011, worked with the starters at left tackle. Batiste was at right tackle. They aren't necessarily the players Arizona will take into Week 1 as starters. The team is in discovery mode while assessing its options. Rookie Nate Potter was the second-team left tackle, with Massie on the right side. Potter faced Acho twice in one-on-one-drills and seemed to do OK.
  • The ball was on the ground quite a bit while Skelton led the first-team offense. The passing game didn't seem to be functioning crisply. Larry Fitzgerald slipped out of a break, coming up short on one ball near the sideline. Fitzgerald also dropped a ball. He was upset with himself after practice, turning serious when the subject arose. Fitzgerald: "I dropped a ball, slipped on a couple routes -- stuff that is inexcusable. I need to give John better looks than that. I have to hold myself to a higher standard. Got to get better tomorrow."
  • Tight end Rob Housler, though enjoying a strong camp overall, had trouble connecting with Skelton a few times. It was a tough day for the tight ends overall. Veteran Todd Heap left practice with a stinger injury. Jeff King suffered a false-start penalty, the offense's third of the day.
  • Kolb, leading the second-team offense while Skelton prepares to start at Tennessee on Thursday, connected on a deep pass to Stephen Williams. "Kevin had a great day today, John made some throws and that's what it's about," Fitzgerald said.
  • Andre Roberts was on point when battling cornerback Larry Parker for the ball. Parker jumped the pass from Skelton, sending the ball into the air. Roberts stayed with it aggressively and made the catch.
  • Inside linebacker Daryl Washington missed practice following a death in the family.

All for now. Time to process some interviews from earlier in the day. I'll be back at practice Tuesday as Cardinals camp breaks.

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