The Cards' four QBs: (from left) Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall and Matt Leinart all look at some photos during Thursday night's preseason finale.
Matt Leinart remains a Cardinal, linebacker Cody Brown does not, and as always, the roster remains a fluid thing for coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Needing to get down to 53 players by 3 p.m. Arizona time Saturday, the Cardinals moved the number to 56 Friday with 16 moves, including the release of Brown, their 2009 second-round draft pick and the move of veteran linebacker Gerald Hayes to the regular-season physically-unable-to-perform list.
They only have three outside linebackers for now and 11 defensive backs. Four quarterbacks remain on the roster, an unlikely number.
"You make that point (to the players), this is going to change, it'll possibly change," Whisenhunt said. "Nothing is for sure. I think in the moment they are happy to have made the team and don't fully understand or fully hear you."
Whisenhunt was talking about the younger guys on the roster, the Max Komars, John Skeltons and Marshay Greens, the ones who find themselves in place for now. Reality is looming though.
It may get no more real than with Leinart, who talked to Whisenhunt Friday in part so the coach could tell him nothing would happen with his status Friday and not to wait around. Whisenhunt continued to leave the door open a crack for Leinart and the starting gig – he would not name a starting quarterback yet, and a couple of times referenced that as a Leinart possibility – but it remains a difficult-to-comprehend concept given the events of the past week.
"The decision we have to make with Matt is where he fits on this team, and if he is not the starter, can he be in the role as backup?" Whisenhunt said. "I have seen Matt grow and improve. This is more for our football team and getting the best guy that works with our team. It is not as much a question about Matt and his ability to play football as much as the fit with our team.
"Can he survive in the role as a number two on this team? That's really what this decision is about."
Whisenhunt certainly didn't miss a chance to send some shockwaves with his moves Friday, even without doing anything with Leinart.
-- There was the dumping of Brown, who managed to show he wasn't going to work just in part of training camp this year (he suffered a season-ending injury in the second 2009 preseason game) and camp this year. "We assess our team on what we think is important, finishing plays, reduction of the mental errors," Whisenhunt said. "We just didn't feel like going forward it was a good fit."
-- Hayes ended up on the PUP list rehabbing his bad back. Whisenhunt said Hayes was probably still three weeks away and while "he was ahead of that schedule, being back ready to play football was another deal altogether." Hayes can practice when ready – the same with rookie linebacker O'Brien Schofield (knee) – and the Cards can reevaluate him after six weeks and decide if they want to activate him.
-- Big tackle Herman Johnson was cut after he couldn't control his weight, which Whisenhunt said hurt his play.
-- Rookie tight end Jim Dray was in and veteran Anthony Becht cut because Dray was better in special teams.
(For a full list of those released, click here.)
But as usual, the top topic was Leinart. Whisenhunt insisted he had no issues with Leinart's attitude of late, saying he understood why Leinart was upset and that it wasn't affecting his play. Without specifically attaching it to Leinart, Whisenhunt said trades were still possible.
"I'm not trying to play a game," Whisenhunt said. "I am just trying to do what's right for our team and make the best decision. As I sit here, there is a lot that has gone on, and I want to make sure I am prepared to do everyone justice by doing it the right way."
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