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Steve Keim, Steve Wilks Talk Roster Fit

Posted Feb 28, 2018

From Scouting combine, Cardinals braintrust knows decisions are coming

Cardinals coach Steve Wilks (left) and General Manager Steve Keim talked to the media Wednesday at the Scouting combine.

INDIANAPOLIS – With the Cardinals only a couple of weeks away from free agency, roster specifics weren’t coming as General Manager Steve Keim and coach Steve Wilks spoke Wednesday at the NFL Scouting combine.

“Right now, I’m not going to indulge in talking personnel,” Wilks acknowledged at the top of his press conference.

Assessing the roster is an ongoing process. Soon, however, there will be decisions that will be made. Free agency begins March 14, and the Cardinals have 19 unrestricted and another three restricted free agents.

Keim said there are “four or five” players the Cardinals would like to re-sign. But “as they get closer to free agency, sometimes it is enticing for them to see what is out there,” Keim added.

Wilks was willing to talk a little bit about the talent of safety Tyrann Mathieu, who has long been one of the Cardinals’ main examples of defensive versatility.

“The skill set he has, he can do so much,” Wilks said. “He can cover, he can blitz. You look at things we’ve done in Carolina, he fits right into that mold. I like his skill set and see how he fits into the 2018 Arizona Cardinals.”

Keim was asked about the status of Mathieu going into the season, and the veteran falls under the same category of the rest of the roster – a roster Keim did have to break down for Wilks initially during the interview process and one that continues to get filtered during internal discussions.

“It’s what we are doing right now with the coaching staff, looking not only at Tyrann but every player, and see how they fit,” Keim said. “How they fit what we are asking them to do schematically, and how they fit from a salary standpoint, all those things moving forward.

“There are a lot of moving parts, (with) what we are potentially doing in free agency, how it affects the cap. I feel we have a pretty good grasp on that.”

With the return of starting running back David Johnson to the field, the Cardinals also have to figure out how veteran running back Adrian Peterson might fit.

“In this day and age you have to have a couple of backs,” Keim said. “David can’t play every snap, even though he’s a guy who has third-down value. You have to have someone who can take the load off. There’s no doubt Adrian still has some juice left in the tank, particularly from a run-skill standpoint. He still runs with a lot of anger and aggressiveness and has the type of contact balance you look for in that position, but in today’s day and age, we all know you have to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield and do a lot of different things. Versatility is a key.”

Wilks said he was just about finished calling all of the players to introduce himself, and reiterated running the football was his top goal on offense.

“As a defensive coordinator, a defensive-minded coach, there is nothing more demoralizing to me than an offense running the ball,” Wilks said. “I feel like we have one of the top running backs in the National Football League in David Johnson. Everything is going to start up front with the offensive and defensive line.”

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