Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Cardinals have gotten dramatically younger at running back this offseason. Edgerrin James and Terrelle Smith are gone, leaving Tim Hightower and Dan Kreider as the only current Cardinals running backs with starting experience.
The team kept three halfbacks and two fullbacks on its Week 1 roster last season. Nine other teams also kept more than one fullback for the opener.
Hightower, Chris Wells, Jason Wright, Kreider and Tim Castille entered camp as the likely choices for those spots, should the team keep five. LaRod Stephens-Howling would have to significantly liven up the return game to earn a spot, most likely.
The chart provides a framework for how many players the Cardinals might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the 49ers.
Here's a quick look at which Cardinals players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players:
Projected to miss cut (1) -- Tyler Palko
Key issue -- Does St. Pierre really have a chance to win the No. 2 job?
Projected keepers (5) -- Tim Hightower, Beanie Wells, Jason Wright, Dan Kreider, Tim Castille
Projected to miss cut (3) -- Chris Vincent, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Reagan Maui'a
Key issue -- Can Wells recover from an injury-slowed start in time to challenge Hightower for the job?
Key issue -- Injuries have hurt Doucet in each of his two training camps. Not that the Cardinals really need him. Long has promise as a receiver, but Morey's value on special teams is tough to overlook.
Projected to miss cut (1) -- Dominique Byrd
Suspended for first four games (1) -- Ben Patrick
Key issue -- Patrick's four-game suspension to open the season will allow another tight end to stick around longer. Becht's blocking might give him an edge on Byrd, but this position is difficult to sort out.
Key issue -- Johnson's impressive showing as backup right tackle could push someone off the roster. Vallejo's knee injury came at a bad time.
Key issue -- The Cardinals' plans for Dockett are key. Campbell's emergence is another critical variable. Will Branch and/or Watson step up?
Key issue -- The only established pass rushers of the group -- Berry and Okeafor -- are at least 33 years old. Haggans is 32. Brown's emergence as a pass rusher would upgrade this unit significantly. Dansby enters what appears to be his final season in Arizona.
Key issue -- Is this the year Arizona shakes up its depth at safety?