Darren Urban posted a great blog on the Cards’ official website regarding the Cardinals’ first day of minicamp today (Friday). The Cardinals have two practices on Friday, two on Saturday, and one Sunday morning.
Of all the onfield issues currently swirling through the Tempe complex, I agree with Urban that offensive line is the most intriguing. With Fancea on board, there’s just so many ways that the team could go in compiling the starting five. The Cardinals coaching staff continues to stress that it’s an open competition with Russ Grim saying recently “we will play the best five.” It’s seems more accurate, however, to say that they’re looking for the best two left after LT Levi Brown, LG Alan Faneca, and C Lyle Sendlein. Whether the right side will include Brandon Keith, Deuce Lutui (still hasn’t signed tender), Reggie Wells, Herman Johnson or Rex Hadnot remains to be seen, but that’s a lot of people fighting for two spots. My money is on Lutui at RG and Brandon Keith at RT.
The other “storyline” I’m anxious to see played out is how quickly Dan Williams and Daryl Washington (the top two draft picks) will crack the starting lineup. On paper, Gabe Watson and Paris Lenon are the likely starters at nose tackle and weak side inside linebacker respectively. Make no mistake, however, the Cardinals want Williams and Washington to force themselves into the starting lineup and I suspect they will be given the opportunity to do so; when is a trickier question. It will be interesting to see how Whisenhunt will treat the rookies, knowing how the head coach likes the make first year guys earn every snap.
Urban points out that the cornerback situation is also worth noting. With McFadden thankfully gone, it’s clearly time for Greg Toler to step up and own the starting position opposite DRC. If Toler struggles, however, the defense could be in trouble. Despite a lot of bodies at the position, there isn’t much legitimate starting talent after DRC and Toler. If DRC gets injured or Toler doesn’t pan out, the team may find itself chasing down a veteran free agent at some point.
Finally, Urban makes note of the quarterback situation. Honestly, there isn’t much to say here that hasn’t been said before. Leinart’s the starter and no one knows exactly what he’s going to bring to the table. If he falters, Derek Anderson will be licking his chops, ready to step in. Also, I’m interested to see how John Skelton looks lined up with NFL talent coming from a school like Fordham.
Faneca’s radio interview on XTRA Sports 910 (Phoenix), if you’re so inclined