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LINE SHUFFLE

- - - - - Coming up two wins short of the ultimate prize, the Arizona Cardinals have high expectation for the 2016 campaign. And entering August, the team returns all of its offensive skill-position players from a 13-3 season. Yet, as is all too often the case, a team will only go as far as its protection will allow it, and the primary questions have centered on the offensive line play. The right side is entirely restructured with the activation of second-year tackle D.J. Humphries, the addition of veteran guard Evan Mathis, and the contest at center between A.Q. Shipley and draft choice Evan Boehm.
- - - - - Against Oakland, the starting unit saw only one series of action as a group, and held up for adequate protection on a drive that yielded a field goal. Humphries avoided any catastrophic breakdowns, but did need to get bailed out by Shipley on at least one occasion. Iupati had one communication error, but otherwise, not too much to complain about with the O-line against a strong Oakland front. Gresham and Fells were adequate on run blocking, though a mental lapse by Fells nearly resulted in a clean shot on Palmer if not for David Johnson saving the day. I think the front five (really front seven) are set with only the center position still in contention.
- - - - - As for the reserve linemen, the left side with draft pick Cole Toner held up fairly well, though John Wetzel's inconsistency remains a limitation. His play also dropped off after getting rolled up from behind, and this may be the difference between the team keeping him on as a ninth lineman. Boggs, McClain, Bernstein, Crisp, DeBord, and Price would be out.
- - - - - Defensively, the questions at ILB remain, and the experiment with Martin (who was similarly unimpressive a year ago) and Clemons was a failure. Repeatedly, this duo would take themselves of the play allowing the Raiders backs to chew up large tracts of yardage, and were all-around ineffective. Farley stepped up out of his safety position on a few sequences, and may fill this role, if necessary, as a backup to Bucannon. Butler and Louis came in too late to make much of an impact, and returning ILB Alani Fua was a scratch.

QB (2): PALMER, STANTON. Out: Barkley, Coker. Neither made a case for deserving a spot on the 53-man roster.
RB (4): D.JOHNSON, C.JOHNSON, ELLINGTON. Bubble: Taylor, Williams. Out: Penny. Taylor may offer a skillset different from those of the other returning backs thus giving him the advantage for now.
WR (5): FITZGERALD, FLOYD, JO.BROWN. Bubble: Ja.Brown, J.J.Nelson, Golden. Out: Shipley, Hubert, Bundy, Okafor, Carlisle. I really don't see Golden posing much of a threat to Jaron Brown or Nelson, though Nelson's fumble didn't help his cause.
TE (4): FELLS, GRESHAM, NIKLAS. Bubble: Momah, Christian. Out: Valles. Niklas looked adequate, Momah has dropped off from last pre-season's scintillating performance against the Raiders. Christian came in too late to make an impact.
OL (8): VELDHEER, IUPATI, HUMPHRIES, MATHIS. Bubble: Shipley, Boehm, Watford, Toner, Wetzel. Out: Crisp Bernstein, McClain, DeBord, Price, Boggs. Wetzel is a long shot, and really only a factor if there is an injury or the team decides to keep nine.
DL (7): CAMPBELL, RUCKER, NKEMDICHE. Bubble: Williams, Gunter, Stinson, Mauro, Peters, Bryant. Out: Pierre. Williams is probably safe, Gunter has dropped off from early last season, and Stinson may be in trouble when Nkemdiche takes the field. Mauro will have to battle like never before to earn a spot on this roster and Peters needs to stay healthy to have a shot.
OLB (4): GOLDEN, JONES, OKAFOR. Bubble: Martin, Riddick. Out: Okpalaugo, Wagenmann. I could see the team keep five at this position, else it will come down to which former draft choice stands out between Martin and Riddick.
ILB (4): BUCANNON, MINTER. Bubble: Fua, Butler, Louis, Martin. Really, the bottom four aren't standouts and this is my biggest worry. Another converted safety can very possibly fill this role (Farley > Clemons).
DB (11): PETERSON, BETHEL, MATHIEU, JEFFERSON, BRANCH. Bubble: Williams, Swearinger, Jenkins, Jackson, Christian, Miller, Brooks, Farley, Clemons, Ball. Out: Prater, Hartfield, Zamort, Eskridge, Bouka. Williams' debut played out as one might expect; he'll get better. Plus, with Mathieu, Bethel, Jenkins, and Jackson out, we have yet to see the starting formations. In addition, Christian and Miller are also draft choices, and in recent years, the team has shown an unwillingness to release its draft picks, even the late-rounders.
ST (3): CATANZARO. Bubble: Canaday, Dillon, Butler, Swanson. Swanson did not impress with his short punts. Canaday was mistake-free though took a bad angle on coverage. Dillon has yet to take the field.
WILD-CARD (1): A fifth OLB, a ninth OL, a third QB, a fifth RB.

NEXT WEEK, @ SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: This weekend, I look for the following battles: Taylor vs Williams at RB, Momah vs Christian at TE, Martin vs Riddick at OLB, and ANYBODY at ILB. We also await Nkemdiche, Jenkins, and Jackson on defense.

TWENTY-FIRST SEASON UNDERWAY

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- - - - - As you've probably already noticed, "The Cardinal's" Nest, the Internet's longest-running website dedicated to the Arizona Cardinals, has undergone a few changes over the years as we embark on our 21st season. This newer setup will hopefully make it easier for you, the fans, to navigate these pages. After all, isn't life already hard enough being a Cardinals fan?
- - - - - The bar at the left will contain the links to the other pages on this site, including icons for some of the larger features. Meanwhile, play in my Nineteenth-annual On-Line NFL Pool has begun and the Chicago Cardinals Photo Album, featuring photos and other game memorabilia from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s has opened. Also, check out the "Arizona Sports Fans" Message Board. As always, if you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, please feel free to send me E-mail at sgoldber@dom.wustl.edu; I always enjoy hearing from Cardinals fans around the country and the world.

The Red & Black Attack is Back !!!

"THE CARDINALS ARE CHARGING"

THE CARDINALS ARE CHARGING
LET'S CHEER THEM ON THEIR WAY
LET'S SHOUT OUT WITH ALL OUR MIGHT
WE'LL SHOW 'EM HOW A TEAM CAN FIGHT
FOR VICTORY AND GLORY
WILL MAKE OUR JOY SUPREME
THE PRIDE OF ARIZONA
OUR ARIZONA CARDINAL TEAM

"The Cardinals Are Charging" was written for both the St. Louis Baseball and Football Cardinals on June 29, 1960. Although the baseball team stopped using the march several years later, the fight song can still be heard at all home football games for the now Arizona Cardinals. The music and words were composed by songwriters Irving Bibo (1889-1962) and Larry Kent. Originally, the lyrics had "all St. Louis" in place of "Arizona" (Line 7), and "St. Louis" instead of "Arizona" (Line 8). Download from the following versions: Real Audio, and MIDI.
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