Linebackers bring depth, intrigue to Cardinals' first 53-man roster

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Here's a player-by-player look at the Arizona Cardinals' 53-man roster:


Carson Palmer: The starter. He's potentially the most intriguing player on the roster because he's coming back from major knee surgery at 35 years old and is looking better than he has in years.

Drew Stanton: The backup. Stanton is healthy after a knee injury ended his season two games short last season.

Matt Barkley: Just traded for on Friday, he'll be the third QB. Barkley is still unproven and uncertain how he fits into future plans.


Andre Ellington: He's finally healthy after a rough 2014, but he also finally has help in the Johnsons.

Chris Johnson: A veteran who, once he's back in football form, may end up being the focal point of the Cardinals' offense.

David Johnson: The rookie has shown glimpses of being a talented receiver. Expect his role to center around that.

Stepfan Taylor: He's been steady throughout his career. He may fly under the radar, but he'll be important in pass protection and special teams this season.


Larry Fitzgerald: Playing with four quarterbacks last season proved to be a flashback for Fitzgerald. If Palmer stays healthy, expectations are that Fitzgerald could have another season of old.

Michael Floyd: Once Floyd's fractured fingers fully heal, it'll be interesting to see how he is brought along. It will either be really quickly or really slowly -- nothing in between.

John Brown: He's up 10 pounds, he's eating healthier and with a year of experience under his belt, Brown could have best second season on the roster.

J.J. Nelson: A rookie who is likely the fastest player on the team (John Brown might have something to say about that), Nelson came into his own during training camp and earned a job.

Jaron Brown: He was too indispensable as a gunner to cut. He's also developed into a solid receiver.

Brittan Golden: His speed will be the ideal complement to John Brown and Nelson, and Golden will compete for a return job.


Darren Fells: He's become a well-rounded tight end three years after entering the NFL after a professional basketball career in Europe. He's established himself as Arizona's best blocking tight end and has the hands to match.

Troy Niklas: Before Niklas can worry about having a breakout second season he needs to get healthy -- and stay healthy.

Jermaine Gresham: If Gresham can get back to full health within a few weeks, he can have an instant impact at tight end especially because of his relationship with Palmer.

Ifeanyi Momah: He's been the surprise of training camp. Momah has proven he can become a tight end after playing receiver in college.


Jared Veldheer: The cornerstone of the offensive line, Veldheer didn't look great against Oakland's Khalil Mack during the preseason, but there aren't any concerns about the left tackle.

Mike Iupati: One of the other cornerstones of the offensive line, Iupati will miss an undetermined number of weeks while he recovers from meniscus surgery.

A.Q. Shipley: He's been working hard to keep the starting center role, which he won over Ted Larsen during organized team activities. But he might lose his second battle to Lyle Sendlein.

Jonathan Cooper: For the first time since being drafted in 2013, Cooper has flown under the radar. He'll be the starting right guard.

Bradley Sowell: Slated as Bobby Massie's replacement, Sowell didn't look spectacular this preseason. He's in jeopardy of losing his job and playing time.

Earl Watford: This has been the Preseason of Watford. He'll apparently be given a shot to win and keep the right tackle job.

Lyle Sendlein: All accounts show Sendlein is playing quite well after re-signing with Arizona in early August. Look for him to potentially start at center.

Ted Larsen: He has been steady for the offensive line, filling needs when called upon. He'll be the starting left guard until Iupati returns.

D.J. Humphries: His roller-coaster offseason has been well-documented, but the rookie still has a shot at winning the starting job if he can step it up quickly.


Calais Campbell: Coming off a Pro Bowl season has increased expectations. As always, Campbell is taking it in stride.

Rodney Gunter: A rookie who was thrust into the starting lineup, Gunter has the talent to play in the NFL. He just needs to make sure he's mentally ready.

Frostee Rucker: Steady is as steady does for Rucker, who is coming off a career-high five sacks.

Cory Redding: He's a savvy veteran who'll contribute to both Arizona's pass rush and to the locker room.

Xavier Williams: An undrafted free agent, Williams has impressed with his quick feet. An injury to Corey Peters gave Williams an opening to make the roster.

Ed Stinson: If he can stay healthy, Stinson will provide valuable depth as Arizona continues to rotate defensively.

Josh Mauro: He's versatile up front and has a way of getting to the quarterback. He's also very bright.


Kevin Minter: Slimmer, more experienced and more confident, Minter has become the quarterback of the defense this season.

Sean Weatherspoon: If Weatherspoon can stay healthy, he can not only earn himself a big payday, but he'll create a dynamic inside tandem with Minter.

Alani Fua: He's an undrafted free agent whose size and versatility intrigues the defensive coaches.

Alex Okafor: He had eight sacks in 13 games last season. Expectations are that he will have at least 10 this season.

Kareem Martin: His transition to outside linebacker has been going seamlessly. He doesn't have a ceiling on his potential with his length and size.

Markus Golden: He's beginning to understand the finer points of pass rushing, which will make him tougher to stop when he gets them down pat.

Shaq Riddick: Once he gets more reps and makes up for everything he missed during OTAs, minicamp and training camp, Riddick will be able to live up to his draft hype.

LaMarr Woodley: He'll be a key part of Arizona's pass rush.

Kenny Demens: Not only will Demens provide depth at inside linebacker, he'll have a significant role on special teams.


Patrick Peterson: With his diabetes under control, Peterson has lost weight and is primed to have a season that proves he's worthy of being considered a top-three cornerback.

Jerraud Powers: He'd rather be playing the slot, but Powers has been as reliable as they come.

Justin Bethel: He's grown into a solid cornerback and has shown the coaches enough that they kept three corners on the roster.


Tyrann Mathieu: He's competing with Palmer for the most intriguing player on the roster. He's healthy and has been looking great during training camp and preseason. The Honey Badger is a potential comeback player of the year candidate.

Tony Jefferson: He added some bulk over the offseason and has looked quicker. He's a key piece to the Cardinals' multi-safety schemes.

Rashad Johnson: He is the quarterback of the secondary.

Deone Bucannon: He will spend most of the 2015 season in the box as a nickel linebacker, not just because he's talented enough to do it but because there's so much depth in the secondary he may not play otherwise.

Chris Clemons: A veteran roster who adds depth to Arizona's secondary. He may be a cuts casualty when Massie returns.


Chandler Catanzaro: A rocky preseason and training camp has left doubts about Cat Man's sophomore season.

Drew Butler: A lot of eyes will be on Butler, who won the punting job over Dave Zastudil.

Mike Leach: Entering his 16th season, Leach has found the fountain of youth.