Entering the 2008 season, there were questions about the center, right guard and right tackle spots. While the club hasn't developed Pro Bowls at any of those positions, coaches are happy with how young players improved.
Center was thought to be the weak spot, and he struggled at times early in the season. But coaches note that Sendlein played with a sore shoulder most of the season and that he improved greatly in the second half.
Whisenhunt thinks Sendlein is not going to be just a good player, but a "very good" one.
Coaches challenged right guard Deuce Lutui as much as any other player on the roster. While Lutui still showed tendencies to make mental errors, he played fairly well.
Coaches still want to challenge him constantly, so, recently re-signed, and perhaps a draft pick will push Lutui.
Right tackle Levi Brown did a decent job most of the season, but he has yet to play to the level expected of the fifth overall pick in the draft.
Brown struggled some in the Super Bowl, although it's true the Steelers pass rushers give most teams trouble.
Brown likely will stay at right tackle in 2009, but he could eventually move to the left side and replace. Coaches are also high on Brandon Keith, a seventh-round pick last year.
Keith is athletic and coaches think he has the ability to play left tackle one day. He still is in the developmental stages, however.
--When quarterback Kurt Warner had hip surgery recently, coach Ken Whisenhunt teased him that the team was now going to call more runs and play-action passes, two of Warner's least favorite things. Warner had a comeback, however.
According to Whisenhunt, Warner replied: "You better get your hand-offs done early, because when I'm fully recovered you're going to be so impressed you're going to want to throw every down."
--Whisenhunt still hasn't watched a replay of the Cardinals loss to the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. He thought he was getting over it until he saw a clip during the recent league meetings.
"I was just starting to get over it and that kind of ripped it open," he said. "It was hard."
--The Cardinals are thankful to be picking near the bottom of the first round. But waiting until the 31st pick on the first day of the draft won't be easy.
"It's always nice to sit back and say, 'Boy, I'm glad we're not drafting until 31 because it's a sign of progress,'" Whisenhunt said. "But when you're sitting around and have a lot of players you know can help your team and all of a sudden they start going off the board, it becomes very frustrating to wait until 31."
--Receiver Anquan Boldin and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, recently met with Cardinals officials, including Whisenhunt, at the team's offices in Tempe. Negotiations are expected to heat up over the coming weeks, but no offers have been exchanged yet.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Now, how are we going to sustain that? That's what the good teams do. And that's the next step for us." -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt on building upon last season's success.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Cardinals have the salary cap space to accommodate the big contracts required by inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, receiver Anquan Boldin and safety Adrian Wilson.
It's questionable, however, if they will decide to pay that much in cold, hard cash over the next few months. The organization's commitment to winning will be tested, and fans are ready to judge.
The club stepped up in the contract with quarterback Kurt Warner, guaranteeing $19 million of the $23 million total.
The Cardinals haven't been a major player in free agency, preferring to sharp for bargains.
TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY
The Cardinals would like re-sign inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and strong safety Adrian Wilson this spring.
Dansby signed his franchise tender this week while Wilson has one year remaining on his deal.
The club is about $1.5 million under the cap, but could create space by releasing running back Edgerrin James ($5 million) and extending the contracts of Wilson and Dansby.
The Cardinals will take another shot at extending the contract of receiver Anquan Boldin. Boldin has backed off his vow never to re-sign with the team, but if a deal is going to be done, he must be willing to take a contract worth an average of around $7 million to $9 million a year. That's less than the $10 million average teammate Larry Fitzgerald is receiving.
MEDICAL WATCH: OLB/DE Travis LaBoy underwent surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon suffered in the NFC title game. He is likely to miss most of the spring workouts. QB Kurt Warner underwent surgery on his left hip to repair a torn labrum and remove loose particles. He won't participate in mini-camp in early May but should be able to practice later that month or in June.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: LB Karlos Dansby: Tendered at $9.678M; signed tender March 4.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--G/C Scott Peters suffered a severe knee injury in camp. He likely won't return.
--FB Terrelle Smith is still an effective blocker and he is anxious to stay in Arizona. He might be expendable, however, because the club has Tim Castille.
--TE Jerame Tuman showed his age this season, was cut in December and then brought back because of injuries. He won't return.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)
--C Pat Ross (not tendered as ERFA) was the backup all year.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--TE Leonard Pope (tendered at $1.01M with third-round pick as compensation) is a decent player but he has trouble picking up nuances of the offense.
--NT Gabe Watson (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) played through knee difficulties. A solid player.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--CB Michael Adams is only about 5-8 but he's competitive and a special teams standout.
--DE Bertrand Berry: UFA; $1M/1 yr.
--OG Elton Brown: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB Ralph Brown: UFA; $745,000/1 yr.
--FB Tim Castille: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Karlos Dansby: Franchise FA: $9.678M/1 yr.
--P Ben Graham: UFA; terms unknown.
--LB Clark Haggans: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Ben Patrick: ERFA; terms unknown.
--QB Brian St. Pierre: UFA; $1M/1 yr.
--C Lyle Sendlein: ERFA; terms unknown.
--TE Stephen Spach: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Pago Togafau: ERFA; terms unknown.
--QB Kurt Warner: UFA; $23M/2 yrs, $15M SB; 2009 cap: $11.5M.
--TE Anthony Becht: FA Rams; $745,000/1 yr.
--LS Mike Leach: FA Broncos; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Keith Lewis: FA 49ers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Bryant McFadden: UFA Steelers; $10M/2 yrs, $1M RB/5M guaranteed; 2009 cap: $5M.
--RB Jason Wright: UFA Browns; $2M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--RB J.J. Arrington: UFA Broncos; $10M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--LB Monty Beisel: UFA Chiefs; terms unknown.
--CB Eric Green: UFA Dolphins; terms unknown.
--LS Nathan Hodel (released/failed physical).
--DE Antonio Smith: UFA Texans $35.5M/5 yrs, $12.5M guaranteed.