Skip to main content

Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information

Crunch Time For Cardinals On Roster Bubble

Fourth preseason game last chance to turn heads for backups


Cardinals linebacker Lamar Louis kept his name in the mix for a roster spot after a strong special teams showing against the Texans.

The duality of the fourth preseason game is nearly upon us.

On one side sits the Cardinals starters, who will be parked on a bench for the final exhibition contest on Thursday night against the Broncos. On the other is the backups, who could be playing some of the most significant snaps of their careers.

For the final time this preseason, a select group of players – 12 aiming for four spots, coach Bruce Arians said – will take the field in an attempt to prove they belong on the 53-man active roster.

"I know I have to go out Thursday, make plays and try to secure a job," cornerback Cariel Brooks said.

It is a tense time for those on the bubble.

If the Cardinals keep four tight ends, Ifeanyi Momah likely makes the team, but they could decide to keep three. The defensive line has nine proven players but may only have room for eight. A backup inside linebacker job could still be up for grabs, while the reserve offensive linemen must be sorted out.

Momah, an NFL journeyman who has gone through this process several times, said he put so much pressure on himself as a rookie that it was detrimental. Since then, he's learned it's better to embrace the experience than worry about it ending.

"I've been on four different teams already," said Momah, who made the Cardinals last year but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first practice afterward. "I understand how it works. I don't really think about it too much and I don't let it get to me."

Even though the players on the bubble would love to make an impact at their position, the quest for a roster spot will likely come down to special teams. Brooks and linebacker Lamar Louis have played well there the last couple of weeks, which has given them a chance.

Arians said he must also weigh keeping an older, more established player or a younger one with upside.

"It depends where that veteran is on the clock," Arians said. "Is the arrow still going up, or is it level?"

Some of the positions have been decided. Kam Canaday won the long snapper job and Drew Butler is the only punter on the roster after the release of Garrett Swanson. Chandler Catanzaro didn't have any competition for the kicker job.

Others could go right down to the wire.

"This is a really competitive room," said second-year defensive tackle Xavier Williams. "A lot of money spread around to a lot of guys; draft picks. I don't fall into any of those categories. At the same time, I've been playing well, so hopefully that's enough to carry me through. It's kind of out of my hands."

Matt Barkley is expected to play the entire game as he attempts to show the Cardinals they should keep all three of their current quarterbacks on the active roster.

Barkley could be a practice squad option, as could a number of the other final cuts. That's where Brooks went last season after pushing to make the team as an undrafted free agent.

"You're grateful to still be a part of a team, but you want to keep working because you never know what can happen," Brooks said. "In my case last year, Chris Clemons went down and I got activated. Just stay ready and keep a positive mindset."

The cuts must be made by 1 p.m. on Saturday, and for those on the bubble, silence can be golden. Williams stayed at the same hotel as the other rookies last offseason, but wasn't mingling on cutdown day.

He holed up in his hotel room, kept his TV off and his phone close. When it didn't ring before the cuts were announced, Williams knew he had made the squad.

"I called my girlfriend because we had just had our kid at the start of camp," Williams said. "Then I called my mom and talked to them for a while. Then a bunch of people started calling me. It was crazy."

Images of Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who turned 33 on Wednesday

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.