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A Cut To 53

Posted Sep 2, 2011

Graham, Davis among those released; Wilson expected to play opener

Punter Ben Graham was among the 27 players cut or moved to injured reserve Friday as the Cardinals got down to the 53-man regular-season limit.

Ken Whisenhunt made it clear, before even taking a question, what Friday’s cuts down to the required 53-man roster for the regular season meant.

“The one thing I’ll say is that it’s written in pencil for right now,” Whisenhunt said. “This will not be the 53-man roster that we have to play Carolina next week.

“Obviously there is still maneuvering to be done yet.”

The Cardinals swapped punters (cutting Ben Graham for fellow veteran Dave Zastudil), kept five tight ends (Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray and Stephen Spach) and nine linebackers, including both inside reserves Quan Sturdivant and Reggie Walker.

New players will be on the way at some point, however. The Cardinals figure to be looking for a running back, among other positions.

“If you’ve got 32 teams that will each release 27 guys, that’s more than (800) guys out there,” Whisenhunt said. “I don’t have any idea (who will be available). You just feel like there will be a number of players to look at, and maybe someone can help you improve your team.

“We’re not going to make any decisions until we see what’s there for us. We at least want the flexibility to address certain areas of our team.”

The release of safety Matt Ware showed confidence in the recovery of safety Adrian Wilson, and Whisenhunt did say that, barring any setbacks this week, Wilson (biceps tear) and cornerback Michael Adams (knee surgery) should play against Carolina opening weekend.

Besides Graham and Ware, the defensive cuts Friday included safety Jared Campbell, cornerback Fred Bennett, linebacker Will Davis, cornerback Marshay Green, defensive end Kenny Iwebema, nose tackle Ricky Lumpkin, defensive end Jeremy Navarre, cornerback Bryant Nnabuife, linebacker Cyril Obiozor, linebacker Kendall Smith, linebacker Pago Togafau and cornerback Thad Turner.

Offensively, the Cards released center Ben Claxton, quarterback Brodie Croyle, tackle Cliff Louis, fullback Reagan Maui’a, wide receiver Aaron Nichols, center Kris O’Dowd, guard Tom Pestock, running back William Powell, tight end Steve Skelton, wide receiver Isaiah Williams and tackle D.J. Young.

Guard Floyd Womack (shoulder) and wide receiver Sean Jeffcoat (shoulder) were also placed on injured reserve.

Kicker Jay Feely tweeted, “Tough day today. 27 players on each and every team will have their hopes, dreams and dreams crushed. Prayers are with you all.”

Whisenhunt wasn’t getting specific on reasons Friday, including the decision on Graham, other than to say the change was “in the best interests of the team,” and pointing out Zastudil’s body of work punting in the weather-hampered AFC North with Baltimore and Cleveland.

The current numbers can also be dictated by short-term needs. Spach, as a fifth tight end, might have been kept because of the uncertainty with Jim Dray after Dray strained his pectoral muscle Thursday night. Whisenhunt said he wasn’t sure how long Dray might be sidelined.

“It’s kind of sad,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “But our coaches have been very fair and have been giving a lot of people opportunities to play the whole camp. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a business.”

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