The Arizona Cardinals’ offense enjoyed tremendous success a year ago and ran into very few speed bumps during an excellent 2009 campaign. While the majority of the skill players – aside from WR Anquan Boldin – were on the field all season long, the Cardinals’ offensive line battled through injuries. Although center Lyle Sendlein didn’t miss a game, he struggled with an arm injury for much of the year.
Now completely healed, Sendlein has an opportunity to emerge as the anchor of Arizona’s line for years to come. The team could have gone after another young center during the draft, but opted to focus elsewhere proving their confidence in Sendlein. Cardinals’ offensive line coach Russ Grimm has done an exceptional job in the trenches since arriving in the desert and the development of Sendlein has been one of his greatest accomplishments.
On defense, Arizona’s biggest injury last year involved the now departed DE/OLB Travis LaBoy. LaBoy was the team’s prized free-agent addition during last offseason but was released after just a year stint with the Cardinals. In addition to LaBoy, DT Gabe Watson suffered a broken kneecap prior to the 2008 season and his progress was slowed by the injury.
Watson will look to dethrone veteran Bryan Robinson from the top of the depth chart, something many in Arizona see as a forgone conclusion. The team is also waiting on DT Alan Branch to break out but Watson has been a far more consistent up to this point in his career. Watson missed the first four games last year but came on strong towards the end of the season. He totaled 8 tackles and a safety in the Week 16 matchup against the New England Patriots.
While the Cardinals benefited from a healthy roster last year, they’ll be even more efficient with Sendlein and Watson at full strength. Both players are young and talented and should only get better with more experience. Like every season, there are sure to be injuries, but Arizona has accumulated ample depth to offset the potential losses in 2009.
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