Korey Cunningham was traded earlier in the day, and seventh-round rookie Joshua Miles suddenly found himself as the top option as the Cardinals backup offensive tackle heading into the fourth preseason game and final roster cutdown this weekend.
Miles is a candidate. But he knows so much can change by the time the Cardinals get to Monday morning.
“Let God’s will be done,” Miles said in the visitors’ locker room Thursday night after the Cardinals lost the Broncos to conclude the preseason. “I will tell you I’m going to jump every time the phone rings, and hopefully – hopefully – I can get some sleep. But I really don’t feel like I will.”
Much will change between now and Saturday at 1 p.m. Arizona time, when rosters must be cut to 53. Then there will be change again Sunday, when waivers claims become official and the Cards add players (Two? Four? Five?). One of those dominoes was the Cunningham trade. He was a player who at one point last year seemed natural to be at least the third tackle in the near future, and maybe eventually a starter. But he didn’t progress like the Cardinals wanted.
“We liked Korey,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We think he has a bright future. I think Josh’s development was a huge bonus for us and we feel good with where he’s at.”
Of course, Kingsbury also noted the obvious, that the Cardinals are going to have a busy weekend when it comes to waiver claims, and in terms of offensive tackle, “we’ll be looking heavily into that area.”
The Cardinals land back in Arizona in the wee hours of Friday morning and start their roster-shaping meetings only a few hours after that. Busy might be an understatement.
-- Kingsbury praised inside linebacker Tanner Vallejo for his play, and since Vallejo also excels on special teams, that could bode well for the veteran who had been picked up on waivers in February from the Browns.
-- The thin numbers with so many players not playing meant the Cards went with a three-inside linebacker rotation of Vallejo, Dennis Gardeck and Dante Booker basically the whole game. Gardeck played a ton of snaps the entire preseason as the Cards try to see if he can mature beyond a special-teams role.
-- There was no snap clap against the Broncos. Kingsbury said that was because the Cardinals went with the silent count because it was a road game. So where that stands with how officials judge it – and Kingsbury said earlier in the week he was not concerned – will left to be seen in the regular season.
-- The tight end decisions will be interesting. Ricky Seals-Jones made a big catch-and-run early in the game but fumbled the ball away at the end of the play. Rookie Caleb Wilson also fumbled away a catch. Ultimately, it seems like Charles Clay and Maxx Williams are locks, and the Cards – if they keep a third – would decide on the very different styles of Seals-Jones (a pass catcher) or Darrell Daniels (more of a blocker and better on special teams).
-- Usually before the fourth preseason game, all the players who aren't playing come out early to get in some conditioning work. All the usual "of course they aren't playing" suspects were there Thursday, guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Terrell Suggs, Chandler Jones, David Johnson, Kyler Murray, etc. But for a group that usually has its roster spots locked up, there was one notable name: wide receiver Damiere Byrd. For Byrd to be held out likely says a lot about his status on the roster.
-- Another guy battling for a spot is linebacker Pete Robertson. He's a good story. It was also cool to see his outfit as he arrived at the stadium -- a throwback mesh Arizona Cardinals baseball cap and a Pat Tillman jersey.
-- Patrick Peterson’s time with the Cardinals is basically over until mid-October. He returns Week 7. Now he’ll start serving his suspension. Kingsbury said he and GM Steve Keim and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph all have had conversations with the Pro Bowl cornerback. When Peterson comes back for Giants week, he will jump right in to his No. 1 cover corner role. “There’s a good plan in place,” Kingsbury said of Peterson’s time away from the facility and the team.
In the meantime, the regular season awaits. What the roster will look like will be the story of this weekend.