Changes on Cardinals O-Line Imminent

Deuce Lutui (Getty)

Under Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals' offensive line has undergone few changes. This year there could be a little more competition.

Since 2007, the only change in the starting lineup was Lyle Sendlein replacing Al Johnson at center in 2008. But the line is expected to undergo major changes in 2010.

Left tackle Mike Gandy, an unrestricted free agent, won't be re-signed. Levi Brown is expected to move from right tackle to left, leaving the right side open for competition.

Veteran Jeremy Bridges, a backup last season, will be given a shot at the job. Coaches are also high on Brandon Keith, a seventh-round choice in 2008.

At 6-feet-5 and 338 pounds, Keith obviously has the size to play the spot, but he's also athletic. He has good feet and coaches think he could eventually play the left side.

There was some speculation that Brown might stay on the right side since left-handed Matt Leinart is now the starting quarterback.

But Cardinals assistant head coach/offensive line Russ Grimm said most teams still have their best pass rushers on that end of the line, so he prefers to move Brown in order to match up with them.

There will be competition at the guard spots, too. Right guard Deuce Lutui played well last season, and he's expected to soon sign his restricted free agent tender.

Coaches believe, however, that Lutui plays better when he's pushed for his job.

Left guard Reggie Wells is the leader of the line, but he's coming off his worst season in several years. The Cardinals signed veteran Rex Hadnot from the Browns, and he will compete with both Wells and Lutui.

Bridges also has started games at guard, and could figure into the mix.

Signing Hadnot and Bridges to three-year contracts also gives the club options for the future. Wells is entering the last year of his contract, and Lutui could be an unrestricted free agent.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Cardinals felt a little bit of heat recently after outside linebacker Joey Porter was arrested in his hometown of Bakersfield, Calif., on suspicion of drunk driving, resisting arrest and battery of a police officer.

Porter was expected to bring a nasty attitude to the team, but the Cardinals were confident it wouldn't spill over into a problem off the field.

Porter's arrest prompted some fans and media to question the wisdom of signing Porter.

Those fears were alleviated just five days later when the local district attorney declined to file charges against Porter.

The Cardinals are looking for Porter to become a vocal leader on a team that needs that kind of presence.

The Cardinals lost considerable leadership when quarterback Kurt Warner retired, receiver Anquan Boldin was traded and inside linebacker Karlos Dansby signed with the Dolphins.

More importantly, they thought the defense needed an infusion of toughness. That unit collapsed late last season, and coaches think additional veteran leadership might have prevented it.

The big question, however, is how much Porter has left at age 33. The Cardinals signed him to a three-year, $17.5 million deal. If Porter doesn't play well, the club will be able to bail out of the contract after a year without much of a financial penalty.

But the Cardinals are counting heavily on Porter to have a positive impact both on the field and in the locker room.

--The Cardinals preseason schedule will serve as a reminder of quarterback Matt Leinart's best and worst performances of the 2009 season. The Cardinals travel to Tennessee in week two. Leinart started against the Titans last season and played well enough for the Cardinals to win. The defense collapsed late, allowing the Titans to go 99 yards in the final minutes for the game-winning score. The Cardinals travel to Chicago the following week. In that game, Leinart relieved Kurt Warner, but was lifted after throwing an awful pass that was intercepted.

--Leinart says he is ready to take on a leadership role this season.

"I'm going to step into the role where I'm going to hold guys accountable, as well. They need to know that I'm going to be out here working and expect them to do the same, which they are.

"A lot of eyes are on me. I get that. But for me, I don't want to do too much. I want to be me and work hard."

--Most of the team's defensive backs were in attendance last week when the club opened up the offseason conditioning program. Strong safety Adrian Wilson, the leader of the group, didn't have to twist arms to get guys to show up.

"If I'm here, they're here," Wilson said, smiling, "as you can see."

--Most of the club's offensive linemen were in attendance, too, which didn't surprise guard/tackle Jeremy Bridges.

"First of all, we're cheap," he said. "We never have a lot of guys working out with trainers. We're not trying to build beach bodies. Workout bonuses are very important so to be here for six weeks in a workout program, I think it's very important."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was entertaining but it was faker than a three-dollar bill." -- Strong safety Adrian Wilson after attending a recent pro wrestling event.

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