Chike Okeafor (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)
AZRedReport.com analyzed 49 players either looking for a roster spot or ready for their return to the lineup like Chike Okeafor. The rankings come complete with the key training camp battles to watch this summer. Looks like the fight for the No. 3 receiver is going to bring the heat, but the Cardinals will win either way. Discover spots 28-22 in the third installment of this series.
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28. RB Marcel Shipp (5’11”, 224) is in a pivotal point of his career as he enters a contract year and his eighth season with the Cardinals. Last year, Shipp rushed for 41 yards for the second consecutive season. Arizona needs more help on the ground going forward, but Shipp has proved to be reliable, tacking on five touchdowns in two season.
27. WR Early Doucet (6’1”, 210) was the Cardinals third-round pick. He comes to Arizona by way of LSU and should be a consistent contributor to the Cardinals organization for years to come. On any other team, Doucet would have a solid chance at a starting role. In the desert, he will have Steve Breaston to battle for the No. 3 role.
26. OLB Chike Okeafor (6’5”, 265) helped the Cardinals transition to the 3-4 last offseason, but missed the entire year due to a torn left bicep in the preseason. A year later, Okeafor looks exceptional in workouts. He’s a workhorse for the Cardinals and is ready to prove his pass rushing skills off the edge are a cut above the rest in his fourth season out to bat.
25. FB Terrelle Smith (6’0”, 250) enters his ninth season in the league after spending last season in Arizona. Smith’s longevity in the league comes from his passion for the game and his major blocking presence. As an ASU alum, he is ready to have a vital role once again in the desert. Smith has blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher six times in his career. He has one year left on his contract and will no doubt come out of the gates chomping at the bit to prove he’s not ready to be put down. Smith was active for all 16 games last season and started in 10. He was originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons there and three with the Cleveland Browns before making his way back to his old stomping grounds in 2007.
24. TE Leonard Pope (6’8”, 265) turned around the tight end corps for the Cardinals last season. Pope starts his third season and made significant progress in his sophomore campaign. He was injured late in the year with a dislocated and fractured ankle but should be back and stronger than before.
23. WR Steve Breaston (6’0”, 189) cornered the special teams market in his rookie year. Breaston is ready to fight for the No. 3 receiving role and hand over return duties to the new rookie receiver in town. The Cardinals will benefit from Breaston on special teams or on the receiving end.
22. C Lyle Sendlein (6’3”, 305) enters his second year in the league after appearing in 14 games last season with two starts. He will provide the necessary depth behind starter Al Johnson. Sendlein was originally an undrafted rookie free agent form Texas and went to high school in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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.