LB Alexander, P Zastudil among 11 players cut by Cardinals
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Outside linebacker and longtime special teams standout Lorenzo Alexander and veteran punter Dave Zastudil were among 11 players released by the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.
The team cut three inside linebackers - Glenn Carson, Edwin Jackson and Andrae Kirk. The other players released were former University of Arizona cornerback Shaquille Richardson, guard Nate Isles, tight end Gannon Sinclair, wide receiver Ryan Spadola and cornerback Darren Woodard. Arizona also waived/injured wide receiver Travis Harvey.
The moves leave 76 players on the Cardinals' roster, one more than the limit for Tuesday's deadline. The team must be down to its regular-season 53-man roster by Saturday.
The 32-year-old Alexander has played nine seasons in the NFL, the first seven with Washington. He was team captain for the Cardinals' special teams the past two seasons and made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player for Washington in 2012.
''It's always hard when you let a vet go who's kind of been a cornerstone,'' coach Bruce Arians said. ''He was a captain two years and it's never easy to say goodbye to those guys.''
Zastudil, who turns 37 in October, missed all but two games last season with a groin injury.
He lost his job to Drew Butler, who came to the team as a free agent after Zastudil was hurt.
''I think he (Butler) won the battle easily on a daily basis,'' Arians said.
Zastudil never played after the second game of last season. Butler averaged 42.1 yards per punt in the regular season but endured an awful performance in the wild card playoff game at Carolina, where he averaged 34.8 yards on nine attempts, including punts of 20, 28, 31 and 31 yards.
Arians preferred to look at the big picture.
''He had a heck of a year other than the playoff game,'' the coach said. ''The playoff game he struggled getting out of a funk but he's hit it really solid the whole time.''
The starting offense had a rough time against Oakland, particularly the fierce pass rush of Khalil Mack, who sacked Carson Palmer twice.
''Obviously the pass protection was not great,' Arians said, ''but also a lot of it fell on the quarterback. I thought Carson was a little anxious to get big plays against his former team and not take what was there.''
Arians said the Raiders have become a team that will give up an occasional big play but is more susceptible to the short passing game.
''You have to take your checkdowns and live and die with it and just move the ball methodically down the field like Drew (Stanton) did in his drive,'' the coach said.
Stanton, operating Arizona's second-team offense against Oakland's starting defense, directed a 12-play, 80-yard drive, culminating with an eight-yard touchdown pass to rookie David Johnson in the Cardinals' 26-23 victory.
Palmer, Stanton and the rest of the starters won't play Thursday night at Denver, with one exception.
Bradley Sowell, who has started at right tackle, will be at left tackle against the Broncos. Earl Watford will start at right tackle.
''Earl played extremely well in the second half,'' Arians said. ''That competition (at right tackle) is heating up real nice.''
He also complimented Lyle Sendlein, who is pushing A.J. Shipley for the starting center job.
Rookie Phillip Sims will start at quarterback for Arizona against Denver, with Logan Thomas replacing him at some point. The two are in a close fight for the team's No. 3 quarterback job.
The Cardinals moved from their training camp at University of Phoenix stadium in the suburb of Glendale to their practice facility in the suburb of Tempe. They worked out on Monday in the air-conditioned practice bubble with the temperature outside at 102 degrees.
Inside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, out with a hamstring injury since the early days of training camp, went through a limited practice with some running and said he had no setbacks. He may be able to practice more on Tuesday.
''It was good to be back with the guys and just feel like you're part of something again,'' he said.
Weatherspoon, who signed a one-year free-agent contract with the Cardinals, shrugged off any concern that he won't be ready for the Sept. 13 opener against New Orleans.
''I feel like I have enough time to get ready for whenever they need me'' he said, ''if they need me for Week 1, if they need me for Thursday night. I'll try to give it a go whenever.''
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