It's game week. The Cardinals are trying to figure out how much they want to play the starters, and how Mason Cole fits into the offensive line. Once games begin that's when the coaches will truly be able to start sorting out some of their question marks. Today in the mailbag, talking offensive line, special teams, and those positions everyone still wants to get a handle on: No. 2 wideout and No. 2 cornerback:
Mason Cole will get the first shot at replacing Shipley. That's why he was drafted. Behind him is either Daniel Munyer or Evan Boehm. Munyer figures to get the first shot, since he's been the one playing center all offseason. We'll see how that plays out – the Cards could always look to find a veteran later in the preseason. The good thing is that all the preseason games are in front of them, so there is time to evaluate. Cole would have to really struggle mightily for him not to remain as the starter, at least going into the season.
It's fair to ask if Boehm is on the bubble, but he has some versatility that helps his case. He can still possibly fill in at center, but right now, he's also likely the third guard. While they did draft him to be a center, once Cole was taken, it was pretty clear the Cards were thinking about going in a different direction, at least in the middle. But Boehm can still provide a valuable service as a backup.
Since Budda Baker is unlikely to get many chances on special teams, I suppose we have to look elsewhere, correct? I think there is always a chance someone will pop in games, which is when the rookies will have to show up. The hope is that young return men Christian Kirk and/or T.J. Logan can impress – remember, Logan looked good in that role when we briefly saw him pre-wrist injury in the Hall of Fame game in 2017. But I'm going to go with fullback Derrick Coleman. Coleman already has shown he can be a pretty good special teamer, and most importantly, he loves playing special teams. I think that'll be a good combination for the Cards.
I'd say not yet. Brice Butler got the nod on the depth chart, but it still feels very wide open and from what I have seen, I don't think there has been any particular guy having such a great camp he's pulled away from the competition. Again, Steve Wilks talks often about needing to see guys in preseason games. He's going to need to see the receivers in action.
As far as the cornerback spot, I'd argue that once Tramon Williams was inserted into the lineup last season, it was fine. This year, it looks like Jamar Taylor would have to play his way out of the job at this point. As for tight end, Ricky Seals-Jones has a real chance to earn significant targets, especially with the uncertainty with wide receiver. But Seals-Jones needs to work on his blocking, so that it's going to be worth having him out on the field more often. Otherwise, that could cost him snaps.
Is Tre Boston OK? Yeah, I think Tre Boston will be OK. But as far as replacing the Honey Badger, that role will fall to Budda Baker – who will play in the nickel when they have five DBs and as safety in the base defense. Considering the Cardinals lost Tyvon Branch and Mathieu from their previous safety trio (with Antoine Bethea), the fact they have filled those with Baker and Boston is pretty impressive. They will be fine at that position
Sure. Do they need to have some things go right? Yes. Sam Bradford has to stay healthy, as do the offensive linemen. The O-line already has their one injury they can afford (and we will see if they actually can afford losing Shipley.) They need David Johnson to be 2016 DJ. They need Robert Nkemdiche to finally come to play early and often. The Rams figure to be a beast, but things (and injuries) can happen to derail the best teams. Everyone thought the Cards were going to roll in 2016 and we know how that turned out.