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Stephen Anderson Makes His Play, And Thursday Before The Bengals

There is Zach Ertz, and Trey McBride. And Maxx Williams.

But another reason the Cardinals have their best tight end room -- and there is really no comparison -- since the team moved to Arizona in 1988 has been the addition of Stephen Anderson. No Anderson isn't going to garner the attention the other three players have. That's OK with him.

What the Cardinals have in Anderson -- a vet who has played for the Texans (with Hopkins and Watt) and then the Chargers -- is a player who can aid in multiple ways, who has looked pretty good in training camp while all three of the top guys have missed time because of injuries, and who is confident in what he can add to the roster.

The depth chart underscored a lot of the main guys won't play Friday night against the Bengals. Anderson is one of those guys to watch in the meantime.

"I feel like I've had a lot of opportunities so far throughout camp, getting a lot of reps with the 'ones,' " Anderson said. "It's been great. If I can show that in a formal preseason game ... I'm super excited about that."

Anderson said he thinks he surprised the Cardinals with his ability to be a receiver -- something he thinks is his best attribute -- because he has mostly been used as a blocker. Indeed, Kliff Kingsbury said Anderson has made the most of the reps he's gotten in the absence of the top three tight ends, and said the Cards are "really pleased" with what they have seen in Anderson.

In the past, Anderson has been used as a fullback often, and while Kingsbury's offense doesn't really utilize such a spot, Anderson's presence would give that possibility. With his work on special teams, as a fullback, as a receiver out wide, as a guy who can block in space or in-line, "I feel like I have a lane of my own," Anderson said.

"I describe myself as just a football player," Anderson added.

It feels like Anderson will end up playing a necessary role for the Cardinals this season, whether or not the other three tight ends are healthy. (And none of the three will play against the Bengals.)

-- The way the Cardinals will dole out playing time Friday night will be interesting to watch. Few "starters" will be out there (same, by the way, for the Bengals.) Linebacker Zaven Collins and cornerback Marco Wilson will play, and how they play will definitely be in the spotlight. In theory, with the "lesser" Bengals playing, both should stand out. Right?

-- It was interesting to hear Kingsbury bring up rookie cornerback Christian Matthew as someone he wants to see in a game situation. Again, the Cardinals' cornerback situation is in flux (they worked out former first-round pick Deandre Baker on Wednesday, but it doesn't seem like anything is imminent.) I'd think they want to see a few of the guys on the roster in game action at this point. Beyond that, I'm going to continue to say I'd expect someone to be added, either by free agency or maybe even a trade at the end of the preseason -- maybe even one of the "we will swap this guy we're planning on releasing for that guy you are planning on releasing." Or maybe both.

-- Judging by how Kingsbury talked about Trace McSorley and Jarrett Guarantano, it feels like it is McSorley's job to lose as the third QB. And yes, I think they will carry three QBs, especially if it is McSorley. You could lose a guy off a practice squad -- the Ravens would've liked to keep McSorley last year, and then the Cardinals plucked him away off the PS.

-- Other guys I want to watch in Cincy: Yes, pass rushers Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas. But also second-year man Victor Dimukeje, who has gotten some praise in camp. Josh Jones at tackle. Dortch v Isabella at wideout. And cornerback Josh Jackson.

-- ICYMI, Larry Fitzgerald is part of the newest class of inductees for the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. A no-brainer, of course (My friend, the late Pedro Gomez, is also part of the class.) The ceremony will be Nov. 1.

-- See you Friday night. (Or Friday afternoon, I guess, with Cardinals-Bengals kicking off at 4:30 p.m. Arizona time, on KPNX Ch. 12.)

Tight end Stephen Anderson
Tight end Stephen Anderson