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After Game-Less Preseason, Cardinals Ready To Make Final Cuts

Team must trim 21 from the roster by Saturday afternoon

Cornerback Chris Jones (25) takes on wide receiver Andre Patton during a training camp practice this week.
Cornerback Chris Jones (25) takes on wide receiver Andre Patton during a training camp practice this week.

By the time the Cardinals announce their cuts to their 53-man roster Saturday, the news for the people it impacts the most will be well known.

For decision-makers Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury, even in a training camp in which there were no preseason games, the choices have made themselves plain.

"Roster-wise, it is pretty close to being set," Kingsbury said Thursday before the final practice of camp at State Farm Stadium.

"It's pretty much set in stone," Keim said Friday morning on 98.7 FM, Arizona's Sports Station.

The Cardinals have 74 on the roster right now, meaning 21 have to be released. But because the practice squad is super-sized in this COVID-19 season – teams can have 16 players this year – many of those cut figure to stick around. The practice squad rules have also been changed this year to allow veterans, which allows for greater flexibility.

The coronavirus rules also allow for teams to protect four of those 16 players from being potentially poached each week.

"It is nice to be able to save some of those spots throughout the season for guys who can't get claimed," Kingsbury said. "That would be fun for us as coaches and personnel (men) to work through that not only this weekend but throughout the season."

Among the decisions that had to be made, Keim noted the battles at running back – Eno Benjamin and D.J. Foster – inside linebacker, cornerback and safety.

"I honestly hate this time," wide receiver Trent Sherfield said. "You build relationships with these guys for three to four weeks, and some of these guys get cut and you don't get to see them anymore."

There will probably be fewer waiver claims this season across the NFL, Keim said. With no preseason upon which to judge other players being cut, general managers figure to stick with players they know and who know the system.

Keim said it would have to be a "significant upgrade" to bring in an outside player to the 53-man roster. It makes a difference the Cardinals have an improved roster too; last year, the Cards claimed five players in Kingsbury's first season. All five of those players are still around and vying for spots – offensive linemen Justin Murray and Brett Toth, defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, and defensive backs Kevin Peterson and Charles Washington.

"I think we have a pretty good feel for what we are going to do," Kingsbury said. "I've said it all along, younger players were at a disadvantage this year without the opportunity to show what they could do in the preseason and without an offseason to really learn schemes and NFL football for that matter. There may be more carryover than maybe there would have been in previous years."