Bengals game will be last chance to impress for many Cards' hopefuls

NFL teams must trim their rosters from 90 to 75 players on Tuesday, making the third preseason game the last chance for many players to prove their worth.

Bruce Arians expects to have some tough decisions to make as it's time to start trimming the Cardinals' roster.

Matt Kartozian / USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Arians hates this time of the football season. The time to make cuts.

"You get so attached to these guys, coaching them so hard, as our staff does, to make them the best they can be," the Cardinals coach said Friday. "When you have to end the dream here -- hopefully not end the dream, but end it here (in Arizona) it's a very, very tough time."

The cold reality of the football business comes Tuesday for a baker's dozen players in Cardinals camp when teams are required to trim their rosters from 90 to 75 players (the Cardnals have 88 on their roster).

The first wave of releases probably won't offer many surprises, although quarterback Ryan Lindley could be granted an early exit since it is all but assured he won't make the roster.

On Aug. 30, teams will pull out the sharp tools again and slice the rosters from 75 to 53, then begin to assemble the 10-player practice squads a day later.

"It's harder when you go from 75 to 53," Arians said. "It's a little bit easier now, but it's never easy."

BENGALS AT CARDINALS
When:
Sunday, 5 p.m.
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale
TV: (Ch. 12)
Injury report: LG Jonathan Cooper (toe) and LB Kevin Minter (pectoral) are game-time decsions but unlikely. T Max Starks (ankle) could play. 
Need to know: Former ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict was expected to sign a four-year $20 million deal with the Bengals this week. The mercurial Burfict wasn't drafted out of ASU and signed with Cincinnati as a rookie free agent in 2012. In effect, this deal means Burfict was better off not being drafted and slotted automatically into the NFL's rookie wage scale, where he'd be making far less money. And now he will reach free agency again in his prime, affording him a chance for an even bigger payday.

Pat Lovell / USA TODAY Sports

The job of delivering the bad news falls on a number of staff members, but Arians said he doesn't shy away from the task. 

"If I have a relationship with a guy, especially a veteran player, then I'll do it personally," he said. "Overall, it's a difficult time for the entire team because friendships are made, relationships are built and then, boom, they're over."

It's important to remember that the roster is a constant work in progress. When NFL cuts are made, the Cardinals staff will sift through the wreckage to see if there are players available that can help the team.

Last season, the Cards picked up nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu after the Steelers released him, and they picked up tackle Bradley Sowell after the Colts released him. Ta'amu was a critical component in the team's top-ranked run defense; Sowell started much of the season at left tackle.

The Cardinals' roster on Aug. 30 (the final day of cuts) probably won't be the roster they sport a week or several weeks later, but we took a stab at predicting the final 53-man active roster (and some practice squad possibilities) anyway.

PROJECTED 53-MAN ROSTER

OFFENSE: 25 PLAYERS

LINEMEN (8)
Jared Veldheer
*Jonathan Cooper
Lyle Sendlein
Paul Fanaika
Bobby Massie
Ted Larsen
Earl Watford
Max Starks

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Carson Palmer
Drew Stanton
Logan Thomas

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Andre Ellington
Jonathan Dwyer
Stepfan Taylor
Robert Hughes

TIGHT ENDS (4)
John Carlson
Rob Housler
Troy Niklas
Darren Fells

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Larry Fitzgerald
Michael Floyd
Ted Ginn
John Brown
Jaron Brown
Walt Powell

DEFENSE: 25 PLAYERS

LINEMEN (7)
Calais Campbell
Dan Williams
Frostee Rucker
Alameda Ta'amu
Ed Stinson
Kareem Martin
Isaac Sopoaga

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
*Kevin Minter
Larry Foote
Desmond Bishop
Kenny Demens
Lorenzo Alexander (also plays outside)

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
John Abraham
Matt Shaughnessy
Sam Acho
Alex Okafor
Glenn Carson

SAFETIES (4)
Deone Bucannon
Tyrann Mathieu
Rashad Johnson
Tony Jefferson

CORNERBACKS (4)
Patrick Peterson
Antonio Cromartie
Jerraud Powers
Justin Bethel

SPECIALISTS (3)

KICKER (1)
Chandler Catanzaro

PUNTER (1)
Dave Zastudil

LONG SNAPPER (1)
Mike Leach

* -- injured

PRACTICE SQUAD (10)
WR Brittan Golden
NT Bruce Gaston
T Kelvin Palmer
G Anthony Steen
S Curtis Taylor
CB Teddy Williams
TE Andre Hardy
RB Zach Bauman
Two players TBD after league-wide cuts

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