BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The starters aren’t expected to play much in Arizona’s final preseason game on Thursday.
Quarterback Carson Palmer might not play at all.
Instead, the attention shifts to players fighting for a handful of spots still undetermined on the 53-man roster.
The group includes the team’s two Ryans — quarterback Ryan Lindley and running back Ryan Williams. Both have something to prove when the Cardinals play at Denver.
Lindley is the third-string quarterback, and coach Bruce Arians has said he could go with two QBs on the roster. Williams has to make up for lost time after missing most of training camp with a sore right knee.
“Both of those guys, it’s huge for, for different reasons,” Arians said after practice on Tuesday. “Ryan Lindley it’s making himself more valuable than the other four or five guys at the end of the roster, and Ryan Williams needs the work.”
Lindley was the only holdover quarterback when Arians replaced the fired Ken Whisenhunt after last season.
The new coach brought in Palmer as the starter and Drew Stanton, who had played for him in Indianapolis, as the backup. Lindley wasn’t even sure he’d be on the roster last summer.
“I’ve got to put my best foot forward regardless,” he said. “They brought Drew and Carson in, so it’s not like I’m going to hop one of those guys. So it’s just ‘Hey, I need to do what I can do, to keep becoming a better player, show it in practice, show it in the games and let the chips fall where they will.”
Lindley, who started four games as a rookie last season, said he needs to show he can play in the NFL, even if it’s not in Arizona.
“If we decide to keep three guys, it would be great, because I love these two guys,” he said. “We’ve got a good group and a good room. But if not you’ve got to put a tape out there for yourself, to give yourself the best opportunity in the future.”
Williams, a second-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech, missed all of his rookie season with a ruptured right patella tendon.
Last year he played, mostly ineffectively, in five games before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. The knee flared up on him in training camp and was slow to heal. He took several injections to try to calm the situation.
“I kept doing work, a little exercise here and there, and it would flare up,” he said. “I don’t know if it took longer than expected, but it took me out for a while. I missed quite a large amount of time, but I’m back, feeling like myself and I’m happy about it.”
Still, he said there’s no guarantee it won’t flare up again. He said teammates who had the same injury told him it takes 2½ to 3 years for it to fully heal.
The team has four other running backs on the roster — Rashard Mendenhall, Alfonso Smith and rookies Stepfan Taylor from Stanford and Andre Ellington from Clemson. Williams says he ignores his precarious situation.
“When you start thinking about things like that, you really start losing focus on what you really need to do,” he said. “So my main thing is to focus on what I’ve got to do for this team.
“We’ll figure out what’s going to happen after that, if I’m on the team or not. But for now I’m a Cardinal and I’ll be working hard as a Cardinal.”
Arians also mentioned the competition for the fourth and fifth safeties, cornerbacks, tight ends and wide receivers.
That latter group includes undrafted free agent rookie Jaron Brown of Clemson, ex-Arizona State player Kerry Taylor and the latest edition, former University of Arizona standout and four-year NFL veteran Mike Thomas, who was picked up after being released by Detroit.
Thomas, too, isn’t thinking about the pressure of making the final roster.
“You can’t worry about that,” he said. “You just go out there and play and let it work itself out.”
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