What now for the O-line

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2010 – 9:27 pm

The numbers don’t work.

That’s the first thing you think of: The Cards actually have too many offensive linemen. Someone is going to be left out, especially now that the Cards have signed Pro Bowler Alan Faneca. It’ll be sorted out as we go through the offseason work and then into training camp. Coach Ken Whisenhunt insisted Faneca will have to compete for his job, but of course, it’s hard to believe Faneca won’t have a starting job unless he woefully underperforms. And they wouldn’t have signed him if they thought that could happen.

So I would guess Faneca will end up at the left guard spot where he has been a long-term fixture. That displaces Reggie Wells, but Wells — who has been a regular at offseason work — could move to the right side. Yes, that’s where Deuce Lutui is, or at least, has been. This is a total guess on my part, but I wonder if Faneca would have been signed if Lutui had signed his tender and had been in place. Maybe he would have been (Whiz did say the Faneca signing was “meant to be”) but Lutui’s absence has been glaring.

If Lutui comes in and plays well, maybe Wells can play some right tackle. I doubt that, however. Brandon Keith is going to be given a shot at right tackle. Jeremy Bridges is there to compete, but I think Keith ends up there. As much as Russ Grimm has always liked Lyle Sendlein, I don’t think he’s going anywhere even with Rex Hadnot around. Levi Brown will be the left tackle.

So that’s my guess at the line, left to right: Brown, Faneca, Sendlein, Wells, Keith. I could be off-base. I’ve been before (as many of you have pointed out with my thought the Cards wouldn’t sign in Arizona). Offensive line coach Russ Grimm, with Whisenhunt, have significantly overhauled the line. It certainly looks more like a mauling line used for running now with Faneca on board, the reason Grimm wanted Faneca back after spending so much time together in Pittsburgh (pictured below).

It’s going to be an interesting path to the regular season. By the time final cuts are made, someone who I expected to be on the roster won’t be. Numbers alone won’t let that happen.

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39 Responses to “What now for the O-line”

  1. By Brandon on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    Duece will pay the price for failing to sign his tender on time…sad really

  2. By Jason on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    I think its cool that Keith is going to get a shot to battle it out for a starting position this year. Wolfley is nuts about Keith and I cant wait to see him put that big frame on the field against DE’s.

    Darren, any word on what the Cards think about Herman Johnson’s progression so far? Does he still need seasoning. Its just so tempting to me to see that massive dude out there just flattening defenders out! But I can understand if he is still a little green.

    The o-line camp battles are going to be very exciting to me this season. I cant wait!

  3. By darrenurban on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    Jason —

    Like Keith, I think they’d like Herman to get another year under his belt before leaning on him.

  4. By Barb wurzbach on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    I sure hope they keep Reggie wells. He’s been asteady player and a leader on that team!!!

  5. By nor cal cards fan on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    Darren- Do you think we will try to deal one of the lineman for some veteran depth at corner?

  6. By darrenurban on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    Nor Cal —

    Possible. But you have to find a trade partner.

  7. By John on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    Any thought that Duece wants to be let go, or sign the tender and traded, so he can pursue more secure long term deal?
    Also, what about Herman Johnson, if the Cards want to really maul and run, how would he fit in at right tackle?
    Thanks Darren, your doing a great job!!!

  8. By darrenurban on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    John —

    I think he wants a long-term deal. If it comes because he was released, well, Deuce is one of the players who was caught with the uncapped year. He was supposed to be an unrestricted free agent originally.

  9. By DRC#1FAN on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    I think the Cards will work something with Lutui’s contract now. I dont know what they were asking before, but if someone is interested, which is usually the case if a player is holding out. mabe the cards take a lil less than they wanted to give him up. At the same time. Faneca is 33. Lutui could b more long term.

    Insttead of a corner for depth I say we get Darren Sharper. oh ye!!!

  10. By akcard on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply

    I have not been impressed by the play of Levi Brown the past 3 years at right tackle, and what bothers me even more is that at times he doesn’t look like he is putting out the effort. Does he hit the weight room under Lott, because he doesn’ t look it? I’m not sure he will be successful in the transition to the left side where he will be facing the better pass rushers. How high are Whiz and Grimm on Levi and what is it that they see in him. To me, he has underperformed as a high first round draft choice.

  11. By darrenurban on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    akcard —

    You are not alone in thinking that way, but his peers did think enough of him to make him a Pro Bowl alternate last year, and Whisenhunt said he thought Brown may have had the most consistent year last year of all the linemen.

  12. By Bunka on Apr 27, 2010 | Reply


    I know Herman Johnson was worked primarily at right tackle last season, but do you know if they see him as a guard or tackle long term? Thanks for making the site great.

  13. By darrenurban on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Bunka —

    I think that’s still TBD.

  14. By CardinalSwagger on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Loving this O-line. Wonder how the line will officialy look like.

    Eww, Darren Sharper with that injury will be a waste of money. Wonder why he hasn’t found a team even with super bowl ring.

  15. By cahongisto on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren-

    Come on man we talked this weekend about it and you were right not a massive deal with his signing… i mean just under 3mil in promised money isnt bad… so I am curious about the idea of a lutui trade i mean the guy played well no doubt but is a false start machine just like brown i cant imagine much value out there for him… i mean i cant think of any suiters can you?

  16. By darrenurban on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Cahong —

    I don’t see Levi going anywhere. Deuce maybe.

  17. By nm card on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Darren , I have been hard onsome of the guys that left , 81 we’ll miss but we have replacemens , I feel we improved but , do you think we are better with the guys that Whiz and Graves signed and drafted , with Mccantcover gone , KD , and rolli gone , I feel we improved , do you gert that feeling or have you heard any positives from the coaches on the changes ,Lutui kinda falls into the other guys for me Fanteca has to be good for us , whats your quick perspective , I have a + on the moves , am I being too much PRO CARD ON THIS THINKING?

  18. By darrenurban on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    NM Card —

    It’s hard to tell if there is improvement. There is little question the offense is going to be different. We knew that with the Warner/Leinart transition, but the line is looking like one that will run block early and often.

  19. By Eric on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    I am ABSOLUTELY STOKED to see this team play football!

    I understand that we would be better served with one or two more solid, experienced cornerbacks. But, our defensive line and offensive line should be so drastically improved this season that the team should really be able to do some damage. A legitimate young nose tackle, a legendary pass-rusher, young linebackers who want to make a name for themselves, and veteran leadership should all make the defense 100% better than last season.

    And with Wells and Hightower with another year under their belts behind this o-line, I feel Leinart is in the perfect position to prove himself as the franchise QB we all know he can be. It’s funny that I can’t remember ever feeling this excited about the Cardinals, not even after the Super Bowl year.

  20. By ReoHays on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    I’m glad. The Cards will win the Division again. Wells will rush for 1500 yards and 10 TD’s with Fitz reciveing 90+ for 1500 yds and 15 T.D.’s See Matt at 3500 yars and 20 TD’s and the Cards at 11-5.

  21. By shannonrobinson on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    We’re hearing Steelers West but actually Coach Grimm and Coach Whisenhunt are creating Hogs football from back in their playing days. There’s nothing like it. It’s Riggins for seven yards a carry when everyone in the Stadium knows he’s going to get the ball. Beanie Ball is upon us. Too many O-Linemen? don’t trade yet – in knock down running football there will be injuries…..

  22. By Stevie on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Is it onyl me/ But I think Deuce Lutui was a sporadic player the past couple of years. If he thought so much of himself that he didn’t sign his tender by now, I think the Cards are better off with Faneca to be a leader and mentor to younger O line players. His play with the Cards this year will give the younger players another year to develop with quite a role model to emulate–both performance and attitude.

  23. By black on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    It’s a nice problem to have.

  24. By NYCARDSFAN on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    What an exciting past week it has been for us! I am so psyched about this year that I can hardly wait for the regular season to start! Thanks for all the great reporting and keeping us up to speed on everything Darren! We really appreciate it! GO ARIZONA CARDINALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. By Chad on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    I find it hard to believe the Cards will cut a younger player that could be a long-term fixture on the line because they signed Faneca. Since his deal is only 1 year (why not a few years?) maybe they only want him for that one year to allow Herman or someone another year to develop or maybe they woudn’t have signed Hadnot at all.

    I suppose Deuce, by not signing his tender offer, is wanting to move on anyways, so perhaps the Cards are just preparing for the future and were going to part ways with Deuce anyways.

    And Darren, thanks for the reporting. I love this blog!

  26. By BigAl on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    The Cardinals have down an admirable job recovering from all of the early offseason loses. I calculated 6 moves that improved our team, 3 moves that were downgrades, and 1 wash. The All-pros that were loss are obviously downgrades unless replaced by another All-pro (Rhodes). Downgrades were based upon unproven players/rookies replacing competent starters. These may end up being improvements, but still yet to be proven. Toler replacing McFadden was an exception, because of McFadden’s obvious poor play. Improvements are where All-pro pickups replaced our current non all-pro players. Did
    I miss anything here?
    Warner = Lienart/Andersen/Skelton (downgrade)
    Chike Okeafor = Joey Porter/Obrien Schofield (improvement)
    Anquan Boldin = Early Doucet/Andre Roberts (downgrade)
    Mike Gandy = Keith/Johnson (Improvement)
    Lutui/Wells = Hadnot/Faneca ? (Improvement)
    Bryan Robinson = Dan Williams (Improvement)
    Antrell Rolle = Kerry Rhodes (wash)
    Karlos Dansby = Daryl Washington/Paris Lenon (downgrade)
    Brian McFadden = Greg Toler (Improvement)
    Chike Okeafor = Joey Porter/Obrien Schofield (improvement)

  27. By Rich on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    I agree with your prediction of the new starting line. I’ll also predict that Deuce will be traded. We need a veteran corner who can compete to start. Claxton may be a casualty. Hadnot, Bridges, Johnson become the primary backups. That line, overall, is set up to RUN, and has alot of depth. people may be quite surprised at the Cards this year. It may be the best team they ever had.

  28. By Andre on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    It’s almost obvious we are going to trade someone. I hope we get some Veteran CB dept. Maybe the Bills?

  29. By card62 on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Darren please educate me

    Everyone says that line chemistry is one of the most important reasons for a successful offensive line. We know we are going to have line changes this year and I support these changes except for moving Levi Brown from RT to LT.

    Why make an extra change and move your best lineman who by the way is currently guarding Matt Leinarts blind side?

    Is Duece L. not signing his tender yet really a big deal? Do players not sign tender offers just to get out of team sponsored events? I really like that we signed Faneca, but he is 33, and I like what I have seen out of Duece and would hate to see us trade him.. If we do not trade Duece my prediction for the line is that Lyle S. will be a backup and that Duece, Reggie, or Alan will be our starting center. I think our line will be improved over 2009 and for future years especially if we keep Duece, and injuries do occur so having 3 quality backups Rex, Lyle, and Herman will be sweet.

  30. By darrenurban on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Cards62 —

    They feel Levi is their best tackle and the best tackle usually is the left side. Lefty QB or not, the top DEs usually are on the right.

    As for Deuce, it just doesn’t look good for him to not be here. If he shows up in shape and playing well, it’ll all be forgotten of course.

    As for your thoughts, I think you underestimate how much they think of Lyle.

  31. By Justbar on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    I’m soo glad Gandy is gone!
    If I had a dollar for every mistake that idiot made I could pay Ryan Howards contract in full.
    Black Jerseys!

  32. By sign90now on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Wow Darren, we have like 15 0r 16 OL going into minicamps and OTA’s…. I think that’s a great problem to have. I agree with your starters. I am just wondering besides obviously HADNOT who can play C and G, what other players on the OL do we have that can play 2 positions? If we keep 8 OL where do we drop off at a different position? FB maybe because Wright can play a lil bit there?

    I personally would love to see LT-Levi Brown, LG- FANECA, Center- Lyle Sendlein, RG- Reggie Wells, and RT- Brandon Keith… with G/C Hadnot, LT/RT- BIG Herman Johnson, and also at the eighth spot be up for OPEN competition HOPEFULLY someone who can play Center and Guard.

    Thanks Darren, ur blogs keep me going every day!

  33. By darrenurban on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Sign 90 —

    Most players can play multiple. I think Sendlein could play guard in a pinch. Deuce I’m not sure can be T or C, but everyone else has either played or practiced at multiple spots.

  34. By Eazy E on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    I think our o-line looks like this:
    LT-Levi Brown
    LG-Alan Faneca
    C-Lyle Sendlein
    RG-Reggie Wells
    RT-Brandon Keith
    Key Backups:
    Watch out for Rex Hadnot, can play both guard positions and center.
    Jeremy Bridges is versatile and can play tackle along with guard.
    Herman Johnson needs some more seasoning.
    Deuce Lutui messed up by not signing his tender, probably will be traded because we have a huge need at CB and we probably could get a starting CB for him. He had a good year this past season, but 211 other guys were affected by RFA also. I don’t like losing good football players, but we are stacked on the o-line now, he deserves his job at RG, but he’ll at the very least, if he’s not traded, will have to fight for it. Plus if he’s traded, we can get a good CB most likely, so it works out for both parties hopefully if we can find a partner.

  35. By Don't Take Losses on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Darren: What about Kevin Mawae, (released by I think Tenn)?

    Never say never (per Faneca;)

    Think we’ll run the ball this year??

  36. By darrenurban on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Don’t Take —

    Uh, yeah, there will be some running.

    And guess what? I am going to say never on Mawae. Unless there’s an injury.

  37. By Don't Take Losses on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Funny. thought so too (on Mawae), but then I reread the part where Whiz said they are reconstructing the o-line. That seemed maybe glossed over but is pretty prominent in my mind.

  38. By Scott H on Apr 28, 2010 | Reply

    Now, this makes me happy! The Faneca signing, that is. Better to have too many O-lineman than not enough. I still want to see Deuce Lutui sign his tender and be here next year, but if he ends up being the odd man out…he’s got no one but himself to blame. Shoulda’ signed it while you had the chance, dude! I’d rather see him here than somewhere else but it ain’t like he’s a multi-year Pro Bowler that other teams are dying to get their hands on…

  39. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Apr 30, 2010 | Reply

    Watching Fanaca’s press conference, it’s amazing how much Faneca looks like Russ did in his playing days (sans the red locks). Their eyes and their wry smiles are almost identical to each other. Although Faneca wasn’t a, “HOG,” he sure would have fit right in, which is probably explains the bond and respect they have for each other.

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