The Arizona Cardinals do not really have any battles for starting jobs on the team currently. Aside from the punting competition between Matt Wile and Richie Leone, the starters on both sides of the ball are pretty secure.
But that doesn’t mean there is not a lot of competition still happening.
Coach Bruce Arians told reporters Wednesday the competition isn’t just for roster spots, but “playing positions, not just roster positions, but the next guy going in.”
In particular, he spoke of five spots where playing time battles are still underway.
“The next guy going in to rush the passer”
Bruce Arians knows his starting edge rushers at outside linebacker will be Chandler Jones and Markus Golden. What is undetermined is who will be the third guy in the rotation to give the starters a rest or to come in for some packages with three pass rushers.
Entering camp, the presumed man for the job was Jarvis Jones. However, Kareen Martin is making a name for himself and could force the coaches to use him in that role instead of Jones.
“The next guy going in at nickel”
The Cardinals know Tyrann Mathieu will play in the slot. It appears set that Antoine Bethea will be the fifth defensive back to come in. However, sometimes Arizona employs six defensive backs and that player is not yet determined. Second-round pick Budda Baker is in the mix, as are veteran cornerback Tramon Williams and second-year corner Brandon Williams.
“Who’s the other corner going in”
Arians still doesn’t exactly know who will be the team’s third cornerback. Brandon Williams and veteran Tramon Williams are battling. Tramon has the experience at 35 years old. Brandon, who has struggled playing cornerback because of inexperience, appears to have turned a corner and finally looks good.
“Who’s the other wide receiver going in the four wide receivers”
Bruce Arians knows his top three receivers. That is Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Jaron Brown. The fourth receiver is likely going to be J.J. Nelson, but that is where the competition is. Also in the mix are Chad Williams, Brittan Golden, Jeremy Ross and Aaron Dobson.
“Same thing at running back”
Behind David Johnson is not set in stone. Kerwynn Williams and Chris Johnson were both co-backups for a while and now Johnson has pulled ahead. But those two, plus Andre Ellington, are in the mix to play.