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Cardinals Waiting To Make Final Cuts

Notes: Options staying open; Martin out 2-6 weeks; Rookies progressing; Captains named


Cardinals running back Elijhaa Penny carries the ball against the Broncos.

Bruce Arians walked up to his press conference table Friday morning and ended any suspense before it started.

Rosters must be cut down to 53 players by 1 p.m. Saturday, and while other teams publicize their roster decisions early, the Cardinals coach warned the local media not to hold its breath.

"I'm not going to announce the things you want," Arians said. "It's called a deadline for a reason."

There is still plenty going on behind the scenes for the Cardinals. While Arians and General Manager Steve Keim likely have a good idea about their top 53, that could change depending on trades or waiver claims. It's a fluid process over the next day, and the Cardinals want to hold their chips as long as possible.

"I think some teams are happy to cut guys and get it over with," Arians said. "We've got a very talented group. There are calls being made back and forth. A lot of things can happen in the last few hours. Steve's pretty active right now. When you have a roster as talented as ours, you want to make sure it's right, all the way down to the end."

The Cardinals have a minimum number of players they want to keep at each position, but at the end of the roster there is some wiggle room. A certain position can be heavy and another one light if a player shows he deserves a spot.

"Fifty-two, 53, who is the best player?" Arians said. "Not the best position, the best player."


Backup outside linebacker Kareem Martin is expected to miss two-to-six weeks with a knee sprain he suffered against the Broncos. He is slotted fourth in the rotation behind Chandler Jones, Markus Golden and Alex Okafor.

If the Cardinals don't keep Tristan Okpalaugo or Shaq Riddick on the active roster, inside linebacker Alani Fua could be used on the outside at times until Martin returns.

Wide receiver J.J. Nelson is dealing with a thumb injury, and will be moving from a cast to a splint, Arians said.

"It should be a whole lot easier to catch punts and kickoffs, and to catch passes," Arians said.


Rookie offensive linemen Evan Boehm and Cole Toner won't start for the Cardinals in the opener, but they are both making solid progress. Each saw significant preseason action with the reserve units and it served them well.

"Like I've always said, you're either going to get exposed or get exposure," Arians said. "They've gotten good exposure."

First-round pick Robert Nkemdiche has also benefitted from a glut of playing time in the past five days after missing most of camp with a high ankle sprain.

"Practice is only at one level," Arians said. "He didn't get to go against a lot of starters the last two weeks, but I thought he held his own against the players he was playing against."


The Cardinals will have six team captains this season: quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on offense, cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu on defense, and kicker Chandler Catanzaro and gunner Justin Bethel on special teams.

Images from the Cardinals' final preseason game of 2016 against the Broncos on Thursday night

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