Every fan and media member and most NFL players loathe the fourth and final preseason game. Most of the players you care about either play a series or sit out completely. Anyone with a nagging injury? Take seat. Nothing beats spending four hours pondering “Why hasn’t the season started already?”
But this final week, where roster spots Nos. 48-53 were up for grabs, always seemed to be more important for the Arizona Cardinals because that fifth running back or third quarterback always seems to show up on the field before Halloween.
You hope Carson Palmer holds up. You hope Rashard Mendenhall’s preseason injuries are as minor as they seem. But this is a franchise that has fought and lost the war of attrition so many times, that has seen their best-laid plans carried off the field like Jonathan Cooper, that has seen three months of preparation decimated in three weeks.
So when Cardinals fans watch Ryan Lindley and Ryan Williams fighting for roster spots against the Broncos – and both played pretty well — they know that history says we’ll be seeing more of them sooner than later. The same might not be said for former Sun Devils’ Brock Osweiler and Gerell Robinson, regardless of how well they played against Arizona.
The most impressive part of Bruce Arians’ first Arizona training camp is the depth he appears to have found at several positions. I expect to see more players brought in as more attractive players hit the waiver wire. While he, too, has a history in Pittsburgh, he doesn’t restrict his attention to ex-Steelers, which is quite refreshing.
We’ll take a longer look at the Cardinals next week, along with a fearless season prediction.
• It’s historically been the other way around, but the Cardinals appear to have gotten rid of a big name at the right time.
When Adrian Wilson was signed by New England last spring, there was a lot of talk about it being a coup for the Patriots. But Wilson has been everything he was at the end of his Cardinals career — a step slow, a poor tackler now that the league has outlawed everything he does best, bad angles to the football, etc. — and Wilson was reduced to special teams in the final preseason game.
After the long succession of Dexter Manleys, Jim McMahons, Emmitt Smiths and Joey Porters, it’s nice to see the Cardinals enjoy the fruits of a Pro Bowl player and part ways before the bitter end.
I look forward to Adrian Wilson’s jersey retirement day in Glendale. No one deserves it more.
• After Justin Upton set baseball on its ear in April, Martin Prado has more RBIs in August than anyone other than Miguel Cabrera. But that doesn’t even the scales on this trade, which also included Chris Johnson — who at .329 entering this weekend could win the National League batting title.
I’ve said it before and stand by it — the D-Backs needed to move Upton. The relationship was broken and the player is flawed. But they didn’t get nearly enough for him, and watching an outfield full of munchkins all season (Prado, Gerardo Para. Adam Eaton, A.J. Pollock) combine for 20-some homers makes the deal look even worse.
• The Suns might say that trade Caron Butler to Milwaukee has nothing to do with the impending jettison of Michael Beasley. But the numbers say otherwise.
The Suns save almost as much in salary cap space ($5.65 million as they will owe Beasley ($6 million) this season. That keeps you from having to spread out the $9 million they still owe their 6-foot-9 forward/poor driver/chemist over more years. I would have like to see Butler play here — he has some real positives to his game and for a young team — it’s better to just rip off that band-aid and clear the books of this giant blemish.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.