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Final Chance For Cardinals Bubble Boys To Make Roster Case

Team faces Vikings in final preseason game

Tight end Blake Whiteheart runs upfield after a catch against the Chiefs last weekend.
Tight end Blake Whiteheart runs upfield after a catch against the Chiefs last weekend.

After all of the trades the Cardinals made this week, it's easy to forget that there's a third preseason game that still needs to be played.

Blake Whiteheart is well aware.

The undrafted rookie tight end out of Wake Forest has veterans Zach Ertz, Trey McBride and Geoff Swaim ahead of him, and another veteran in Noah Togiai battling for a spot. He's had his chance to get reps -- Whiteheart is the only tight end not to have been banged up in camp -- and he's hoping it will make a difference.

"I don't want to see anyone get hurt," Whiteheart said. "I love those guys. But those opportunities are ones I'm sure everyone would love to have. Knowing I had them, I tried to make the most of them. Some plays I made, some I didn't."

Whiteheart will know his fate by Tuesday. The Cardinals play against the Vikings, and three days later the team must shave the nearly 90-man roster down to 53. The Vikings game is the final piece of the puzzle for GM Monti Ossenfort and coach Jonathan Gannon.

"We talk every day, but we take the full body of work, from the OTAs to camp to the games to the practices and collectively make our decisions," Gannon said.

It's tough conversations to have, and Gannon said it's not easy because "you love everybody in there and you appreciate all their hard work and their effort."

Offensive coordinator Drew Petzing's scheme features multiple tight ends across several formations. With Ertz, a three-time Pro Bowler being activated off the PUP list, McBride, and Swaim, Whiteheart recognizes the challenge ahead of him.

"All I can control is my prep for each practice and how I perform on the field," Whiteheart said. "I know it's an uphill battle as an undrafted free agent, but I am giving it my all and I am happy with that regardless."

Bobby Price knows the feeling. As an undrafted rookie, the cornerback was released, but signed to the Lions practice squad. Now in his fourth season in the NFL and first with the Arizona Cardinals, Price looks at it through a different lens.

"Being an undrafted guy, not knowing what to expect, battling until the end, you definitely have that anxious, nervous feeling," Price said. "But as you grow older you control what you can control."

Gannon and many others have emphasized that reps this time of year are golden, and in last Saturday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Price was on the field for 26 snaps, the most behind rookie Kei'Trel Clark. Starters figure to play little if at all against the Vikings, providing more chances for a guy like Price -- who plays a position about as wide-open as it can be.

The way Gannon and Ossenfort have approached the roster -- especially after the trades of Isaiah Simmons and Josh Jones -- a lot of change can still happen. Running backs Keaontay Ingram and Corey Clement have been battling for the RB2 position, and Ingram has said he feels "uncomfortable," with his role at the moment.

Wide receiver Zach Pascal said everybody "needs to embrace the uncomfortable."

"The whole season we are going to be in environments where we are uncomfortable," Pascal said. "The more uncomfortable we are, the better for us."

ROSTER MOVE: The Cardinals signed offensive lineman Cohl Cabral on Friday. Cabral, who went to Arizona State, has spent time with four NFL teams and started 10 games for the USFL Birmingham Stallions this spring.

Images of the Arizona Cardinals in Eagan, MN for a joint Training Camp practice with the Minnesota Vikings

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