The final cuts for the Cardinals came Saturday, without much intrigue.
But that didn’t make it any easier for coach Dennis Green, forced to juggle his final 53-man roster with some key players hurt and likely unable to play in next week’s season opener in New York.
"You hate to have to make decisions based on injuries," Green said. "That always makes it more difficult."
The offensive line, which has had its problems throughout the preseason, was at the center of the shuffling. With centers Alex Stepanovich (hand) and Nick Leckey (ankle) still out, Green kept four centers on the final roster, with Shawn Lynch and Adam Haayer Nos. 1 and 2 for now.
Green also decided to keep defensive end-turnedoffensive tackle Fred Wakefield as his top backup, and he cut the more experienced Ian Allen.
Wakefield has been solid throughout the preseason, Green said, and more importantly, his 6-foot-7 frame and athletic ability allows Wakefield to block on special teams returns and serve on the fieldgoal block team.
Unlike many backup offensive linemen, "he should play for us," Green said.
Green also made it clear that, after cutting Tim Bulman and leaving only Ross Kolodziej as a backup defensive tackle, the Cardinals will probably find another defensive lineman on the waiver wire before the first game.
"We’re not done," Green said. "I think when it is time to play we’ll have that depth."
Among the other fallout of Saturday’s cuts, James Jackson beat out Damien Anderson for the third running back spot, while J.J. Moses — picked up last week — will return both kicks and punts. Rookie Dan Sheldon, who lost the job to Moses, is expected to return on the practice squad.
Veteran cornerback Robert Tate also was released as the Cards went with only four cornerbacks: rookies Antrel Rolle and Eric Green and David Macklin and Raymond Walls.
Special teams played a huge role in Green’s decisions. Harold Morrow made the team technically as a third fullback, but Green admitted Morrow is basically a special teams specialist as a cover man and blocker. Undrafted rookie John Bronson beat out Aaron Golliday at tight end for the same reason.
The starting lineup is set other than at right guard, where rookie Elton Brown will continue to battle Jeremy Bridges. Brown is expected to be OK with a minor knee sprain suffered Friday night.
Green said linebacker Gerald Hayes, another player the Cards saved a roster spot for despite knee surgery, hopefully will be back in another five or six weeks.
All seven draft picks made the team, although receiver LeRon McCoy, the seventhround choice, is a top candidate to be cut and moved to the practice squad if the team must clear space for a waiver wire pickup.
EXTRA POINT: The team is off today, before resuming practice Monday.
Booted from the nest
The Cardinals cut 16 players from the roster Saturday to get down to the 53-man roster to start the season. The team also came to an injury settlement with TE Bobby Blizzard. Below lists the players cut: OT Ian Allen RB Damien Anderson DT Tim Bulman* G Rolando Cantu* K Matt Fordyce TE Aaron Golliday* S Jermaine Hardy WR Carlyle Holiday* LB Isaac Keys DE Tyler King* WR Reggie Newhouse CB Lamont Reid* S Ernest Shazor* WR Dan Sheldon* CB Robert Tate LB Lester Towns * practice squad candidates