Wilmington’s Barth fighting for job in Tampa; Cooper poised to start for Arizona Cardinals

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With NFL teams required to cut their roster down from 75 players to 53 on Saturday, Wilmington native Connor Barth is in a fight for the place kicker job on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Having re-signed with the organization that let him go a little more than one year ago, Barth is one of three kickers working at training camp.

Patrick Murray, the team’s starter from last season, has missed two field goals so far this preseason. Barth, who was signed last week after his release from Denver Broncos, missed his only attempt in a Buccaneer uniform on Saturday night against the Browns. The third kicker competing for a spot is Kyle Brindza, a rookie free agent out of Notre Dame, whom the Bucs traded for on Monday, according to Buccaneers.com Beat Writer Joe Kania.

Tampa faces the Miami Dolphins in their final preseason outing on Thursday night.

Cooper ready to take over at guard for Arizona Cardinals 

Jonathan Cooper, right, pictured with NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell on Draft night.
Jonathan Cooper, right, pictured with NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell on Draft night.

Following a season-ending injury that cut short his rookie year as the seventh overall pick in the NFL draft, Jonathan Cooper struggled to find his groove in 2014, but the former Hoggard High School and North Carolina standout is currently listed as the starting right guard on the Arizona Cardinals depth chart.

Darren Urban of www.azcardinals.com reports, “Cooper feels whole for the first time since breaking his leg in the 2013 preseason. More importantly, his play reflects that, and so does the analysis of his coaches. But Cooper seems to have gotten back to the level where he was at this time of year in 2013, when the Cardinals believed he might be their best offensive lineman. The overall line is better now, but part of that is because of Cooper.”

Cooper made his NFL debut in 2014 and started two of 10 games played. In his consecutive starts in weeks 14 and 15, the Cardinals posted their top two rushing games of the season, running for 141 yards against Kansas City and then totaling 143 yards on the ground at St. Louis.

He became the first guard taken in the top eight of the NFL Draft since 1982, when future Hall of Famer Mike Munchak was selected by the Houston Oilers with the eighth overall pick.