Numbers games: Cardinals roster in perspective

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:


Running backs

  • 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?


Tight ends

  • Projected keepers (3) -- Stephen Spach, Leonard Pope, Anthony Becht

  • 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.

Offensive line

Defensive line


Defensive backs