Arizona Cardinals: 5 Players Who Will Be Toughest to Cut

Shaun Church@@NFLChurchContributor IAugust 27, 2012

Arizona Cardinals: 5 Players Who Will Be Toughest to Cut

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    Making cuts is never an easy thing to do. The Arizona Cardinals have both young and veteran players that likely won’t make it to the 53-man roster, and because they have all contributed in one way or another, it will be tough to see them go.

    We have all seen “Hard Knocks” on HBO or seen highlights somewhere.

    It’s an emotional time when someone is told they won’t be part of a franchise for which they’ve given blood, sweat and tears. Some men take it better than others. But then there are those who have reached the end of their respective NFL careers, and the realization hits them all at once.

    Unfortunately for one or two Arizona Cardinals, that realization may be coming, whether it’s by the end of the preseason or the end of the 2012 regular season.

    The five players who will be toughest to cut are as follows:

Richard Bartel, QB

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    In two seasons with Arizona, Rich Bartel has been a steady third-string quarterback option.

    He appeared in three regular-season games, completed 52.0 percent of his passes for 236 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

    After getting the third-string repetitions during the Hall of Fame game against the New Orleans Saints, Bartel was relegated to fourth-string duties for Kansas City.

    He hasn’t played since then.

    Bartel has been nothing more than a backup’s backup in the NFL, and now with promising young rookie Ryan Lindley showing glimpses of what could be to come, he will likely be among the final players cut before Week 1 of the regular season.

    For the preseason, Bartel completed 8-of-13 passes, 61.5 percent, for 130 yards and one touchdown for a 120.7 QB rating.

Alfonso Smith, RB

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    Alfonso Smith has also been with the Cardinals for two seasons.

    In that time, he has played in 16 regular-season games and rushed the ball 30 times for 102 yards (all coming last season).

    His best game was Week 2 last year, a game at the Seattle Seahawks in which he received 17 carries for 54 yards and caught three passes for another 21 yards in place of an injured Beanie Wells.

    Smith has given two years of off-and-on service with the team and its practice squad, and the chances he is picked up somewhere else are slim. If a team is in need following an injury, he may get a call, but even then he may simply be a warm body to fill a bench spot.

    For the preseason, Smith has carried the ball 23 times for 107 yards, 4.7 yards per carry and one touchdown.

Stephen Williams, WR

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    For two seasons, Stephen Williams tried to make it work. The Arizona Cardinals tried to make it work.

    It just didn’t work.

    Williams shined during the preseason of his rookie campaign. After going undrafted in 2010, Arizona signed him as a free agent, and he began flashing signs of great athleticism and drive.

    He wanted it badly.

    That rookie preseason he nabbed 11 catches for 187 yards, 17.0 yards per catch, and one touchdown. He made the 53-man roster out of camp, then disappeared.

    Playing in 11 games his rookie season, he caught just nine passes for 101 yards (11.2 YPC).

    It appeared he would show up again the next season, as he once again was a preseason stud, catching nine passes for 124 yards, 13.8 YPC and two TD.

    Once again, he disappeared during the regular season.

    This preseason he has just two receptions for 40 yards while another rookie free-agent receiver, LaRon Byrd, has impressed coaches and fans with his toughness and great catching ability.

Michael Adams, CB

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    Arizona has carried Michael Adams on its roster since his rookie year of 2007.

    For years, he’s been called a solid tackler, one of the best within the secondary.

    But for years, he has proven that to be a false statement.

    Now, he can’t cover a receiver. Adams has been beaten with more regularity than any other cornerback on the team.

    Some believe preseason is worthless for judging players, and I am of that same belief. But there comes a point where finding a more talented player is necessary to improve the team, and for Arizona, that time is now.

    His production on special teams is being replaced by rookie sixth-round pick Justin Bethel. His role on defense can be played by rookie third-round pick Jamell Fleming—better, perhaps.

    As a fan favorite, it will be tough for many to see him go, but it is a necessity.

Clark Haggans, OLB

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    It seems that Clark Haggans’ second DUI since 2004 will go unpunished by the league and by the Cardinals, so that is no reason to cut him.

    A good reason, however, is that he has been outplayed by free-agent signee Quentin Groves this preseason.

    Again, preseason doesn’t mean much for a lot of players.

    But Haggans looks slower of late and has hesitated when faced with an open shot on a quarterback twice that I have seen. The most glaring instance was in Kansas City.

    He had a chance to get to Chiefs’ second-string quarterback Brady Quinn and at least disrupt his passing lane, but instead he waited too long and almost jogged toward him half-heartedly.

    Preseason or not, that lack of effort can’t go unnoticed; especially when Groves has been a monster so far.

    Through four preseason games, Haggans has just four tackles. Groves has 10 tackles and one sack.

    The 12-year veteran is seven years the elder of Groves, is slower and gives less effort, and has zero upside left. It may come down to him or Groves, and the choice, though difficult, should be clear.