OLB Chike Okeafor (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)
The Arizona Cardinals were movers and shakers this offseason, but mostly on the defensive side of the ball. AZRedReport.com breaks down how the depth chart is shaking up and answers the questions: 1) Which rookies will step up? 2) Where will returning veterans fit in? and 3) Where, exactly, are all those defensive ends going?
Ken Whisenhunt made it easy on everyone when he announced Matt Leinart would resume his starting role, despite stellar numbers by Kurt Warner. Brian St. Pierre and rookie Anthony Morelli will battle it out for the No. 3 role. St. Pierre’s Pittsburgh Steelers connection gives him the inside track.
By not drafting a running back in the early rounds, the Cardinals put a lot of faith in Edgerrin James having at least one more 1,200-yard season in him. Behind James, Tim Hightower and J.J. Arrington will go toe-to-toe to be Marcel Shipp’s backup, with Hightower’s novelty winning that fight.
The offensive line is solid with Brandon Keith taking the No. 2 role on Leinart’s right side, with a couple undrafted guys holding down the practice squad for insurance.
The Cardinals defensive additions will find a role somehow or another, but Travis LaBoy was their big-ticket purchase and is thus guaranteed a spot atop the depth chart. The situation behind LaBoy, however, remains muddled.
Another rookie ready to make an immediate impact is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who could knock Eric Green out of the No. 1 role. Ro-Cro will have to wait his turn, though, just like his fellow 2008 draft classmates.
QB: Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner, Brian St. Pierre
RB: Edgerrin James, Marcel Shipp, Tim Hightower
FB: Tim Castille, Terrelle Smith
LT: Mike Gandy
LG: Reggie Wells
C: Al Johnson, Lyle Sendlein
RG: Deuce Lutui, Elton Brown
RT: Levi Brown, Brandon Keith
TE: Leonard Pope, Ben Patrick, Jerame Tuman
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Early Doucet, Jerheme Urban
WR: Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston, Sean Morey
DE: Antonio Smith, Bert Berry, Bryan Robinson
NT: Gabe Watson, Alan Branch
DE: Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Kenny Iwebema
OLB: Travis LaBoy, Chris Harrington
ILB: Karlos Dansby, Matt Stewart
ILB: Gerald Hayes, Monty Beisel
OLB: Chike Okeafor, Clark Haggans
CB: Eric Green, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
CB: Rod Hood, Ralph Brown
SS: Adrian Wilson, Aaron Francisco
FS: Antrel Rolle, Oliver Celestin
K: Neil Rackers
P: Dirk Johnson
LS: Nathan Hodel
OG Hercules Satele
OT Peter Clifford
OG Carlton Medder
FB Dionte Johnson
DL Keilen Dykes
LB Ali Highsmith
CB Travarous Bain
S Dennis Keyes
What is your take on this projection?
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Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications. Her analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.