The wide receiver room was always going to have some intrigue once final cutdown came along for the Cardinals, and Monday morning came the reality that a mild surprise was here.
Among the 10 players the Cards cut prior to the first practice of the week was KeeSean Johnson, the 2019 sixth-round pick who had totaled 36 catches for 360 yards and a touchdown in two seasons.
He had been battling Andy Isabella, Antoine Wesley and Greg Dortch for the fifth and potentially sixth wide receiver spot.
"We know (Johnson) can play in this league," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "It's just tough competition in that room, there were some other guys that stepped up, and it just became a numbers game."
With Dortch down with an undisclosed injury – Kingsbury said he was still a "number of days" away from returning – the odds increase for Isabella and also Wesley, the latter who could provide a necessary big body.
"Anytime Antoine has had an opportunity to make a play, he's made a play," Kingsbury said. "He's showing up big, gives us a lot of length outside. He's had a nice camp."
Kingsbury said it was still possible to keep six wide receivers. The top four are DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore.
The other nine players cut Monday morning were:
- OL Shaq Calhoun
- RB Tavien Feaster
- C Michal Menet
- DL Cam Murray
- CB Picasso Nelson
- WR A.J. Richardson
- LB Evan Weaver
- P Ryan Winslow
- LB Bryson Young
The Cardinals have to be down to 53 players by Tuesday at 1 p.m. Arizona time, but Kingsbury said they will be "close to 52 or 53" by Monday afternoon. Reports already say safety Chris Banjo, cornerback Jace Whittaker and wide receiver Andre Baccellia have been informed they will be cut.
All the cut players officially announced are subject to waivers can could be claimed by another team. If they clear waivers, all are eligible to return to the 16-man practice squad. Johnson could be a candidate for that role if he is not claimed.
The fact Isabella can provide help on special teams, and Johnson cannot, is one of the reasons Isabella remains on the roster. Both 2019 draft picks have struggled to consistently produce. The third wide receiver of the Cardinals' 2019 draft class, Hakeem Butler, was released last year.
The Cardinals have to figure out their final roster without the benefit of their last preseason game, which was cancelled because of Hurricane Ida.