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John Skelton Given the Reins as Arizona Cardinals Cut Down to 53

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John Skelton Given the Reins as Arizona Cardinals Cut Down to 53
Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

The Cardinals were officially the first NFC West team to announce their slew of cuts, but overall, they were one of the last ones to initially finalize their 53. However, everyone knows the roster will look slightly different next Friday as Arizona puts the finishing touches on the game plan for their home opener against Seattle.

Earlier in the day, head coach Ken Whisenhunt announced that it would indeed be John Skelton starting at quarterback in Week 1. Up until his announcement, neither player had done enough to truly separate themselves from the pack. It basically came down to which guy had the worse preseason. Once they decided Kolb did, Skelton was the easy pick. 

Not much else to add to the quarterback battle other than what Wisenhunt had to say when asked if Skelton would start all year long: "It’s a production-oriented business, if you’re not getting the job done, you’re going to be replaced. Our expectation is that (Skelton) is going to get the job done.”

Not a huge vote of confidence from the coach, but what can you expect from a position that has been in disarray for almost a year now. Decisions were also made on rookie Ryan Lindley and veteran Rich Bartel.

Lindley secured the No. 3 quarterback job by having himself an outstanding preseason. He threw for 538 yards and appeared in all five preseason games.

Bartel, on the other hand, wasn't as lucky; he only attempted 18 passes in his three preseason appearances. This eventually left him as the fourth guy on the depth chart, but his stint with the Cardinals isn't over. The team announced he was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. 

As far as the rest of the roster moves go, there were only a couple that truly surprised me.

Cornerback A.J. Jefferson's trade to the Minnesota Vikings came as a shock, yet the compensation in return has not been made public. Kent Somers of AZCentral.com first reported the trade a little over an hour ago:

A move that really doesn't come as a surprise considering his up-and-down play last season and the depth behind him at defensive back. Jefferson was solid against the run in all 16 games, although he struggled mightily against the pass. Opposing quarterbacks had a completion percentage of 61.4 when throwing his way. 

In a not-so-surprising move, Arizona moved on from outside linebacker Clark Haggans. Haggans was scheduled to make $1 million this year, which proved to be too much cash for a backup. O'Brien Schofield worked his way into the starting role at left outside linebacker and never relinquished the job he earned back in July.

It's worth mentioning that Quentin Groves made the team as Schofield's backup. Between the two, they will make about $240,000 more than Haggans was scheduled to make. Definitely a smart financial move by the Cardinals. 

Here is a complete run down of the final cuts by position:

 

Quarterback: 

Running Back: Alfonso Smith

Wide Receiver: DeMarco Sampson, Isaiah Williams, Stephen Williams

Tight End: Steve Skelton, Martell Webb

Offensive Line: Russ Hochstein, Scott Wedige, D.J. Young

Defensive Line: Ricky Lumpkin, Ronald Talley, Everrette Thompson 

Linebacker: Antonio Coleman, Clark Haggans, Colin Parker, Quan Sturdivant, Brandon Williams

Cornerback: Crezdon Butler, Larry Parker

Safety: Blake Gideon

 

As I mentioned earlier, it's hard to believe the roster won't be tweaked before next week. So, surviving the cut down to 53 only guarantees one thing: you made it through today—tomorrow is a whole different story.

 

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