As Season Draws Near, Butler Injury Highlights Uncertain WR Room

The news came out that rookie wide receiver Hakeem Butler hurt his hand and that he'll miss some significant time -- long enough that Kliff Kingsbury didn't rule out a potential trip to injured reserve. It's a blow to Butler certainly. He is a player that will improve with practice time, and that is lost for the time being. But the news created two bullet points in my mind. One, it probably wouldn't have an immediate impact on the wide receiver depth chart, because at this point, Butler was behind pretty much everyone in terms of getting regular snaps when the season begins. Two, the Cardinals still are trying to sort out their receivers.

There was a reason the Cardinals took a look at Michael Crabtree a couple of weeks ago. Everyone has known about Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk and their spot atop the depth chart. Beyond that? KeeSean Johnson has been solid all offseason and camp, but are the Cardinals comfortable with him as the No. 3 receiver? Trent Sherfield looks like he's got a roster spot, in no small part because he can play special teams. He's also made a couple of nice touchdown catches (albeit against second-unit defenses) and may have played his way into a bigger role.

But it is difficult to tell other spots. Andy Isabella (like Butler) is on the roster, but how often will they turn to him, especially early in the season, as he learns the NFL game? It would seem that Pharoh Cooper and Damiere Byrd, wideouts and kick returners, might be battling for one spot -- assuming one gets a spot. Does Kevin White have enough time left to earn a spot? The one thing the Butler injury, should he go to IR, would do is save a roster spot.

"We've seen some bright spots from that group and hope to continue to see that these last two preseason games," Kingsbury said. "(GM) Steve (Keim) made mention of it earlier this week, having that first (waiver) claim, there will be some good players out there."

"Out there" meaning when teams cut to 53 players. I am fully expecting the Cardinals to be active on waiver claims, and wide receiver would be a position to watch. Crabtree is still out there too. In an offense that is expected to lean heavily on wide receivers, the Cardinals could use some clarity.

Wide receivers (from left) Trent Sherfield, KeeSean Johnson, Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald congratulate Andy Isabella after a touchdown.
Wide receivers (from left) Trent Sherfield, KeeSean Johnson, Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald congratulate Andy Isabella after a touchdown.

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