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Cards Sign G Alan Faneca to One-Year Deal

UPDATE:Newly signed guard Alan Faneca will hold a press conference today (Thursday).  In other offensive line news,  OL coach Russ Grim mentioned to Darren Urban that guard Reggie Wells could possibly play some tackle.  The addition of Faneca, therefore, may throw Wells  in the right tackle mix with Brandon Keith and Jeremy Bridges.

The Cardinals added yet another former Jet to the roster.  This time it’s the nine-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca to a one-year deal reportedly worth $2.5 million.  Arizona got Faneca on the cheap because the Jets still owe him $5 million, meaning Faneca will make $7.5 million in 2010, assuming the Arizona contract number is accurate. 

Apparently, the move to Arizona has been two years in the making.  Whisenhunt told Darren Urban of the Cards’ official website that Arizona wanted Faneca in 2007, but salary cap restrictions made the move impossible at that time.  Whisenhunt and offensive line coach/running game coordinator/HOFer Russ Grim are well acquainted with Faneca from their days in Arizona-EastPittsburgh.  Faneca is the kind of no nonsense, nail eating lineman that you want.  He helped anchor the NFL’s top rushing offense in New York last year and of course everyone knows the type of running game Pittsburgh had.  A good deal of that success was certainly due to Faneca’s Pro Bowl efforts.

Whisenhunt, however, insists that Faneca won’t be handed anything.  Whisenhunt said, “It won’t be given to him.  I don’t think Alan would have it any other way.”  This is basically Whisenhunt’s standard line when it’s all but a foregone conclusion that the player in question is slated to start.  This is even more true of Faneca, a 33 year-old vet that is well beyond effort building tests; Faneca’s status is well established in the NFL. 

So where does this leave the offensive line as a whole?  Well, the only thing that’s certain is change this off-season; the offensive line is no different, a fact that Whisenhunt acknowledged:

When you talk about making changes in your offensive line, which at this point we are talking about, it’s outstanding to know you have a player like Alan coming into this team, because of what he has accomplished in this league and what he will mean to this team.”

We do know that Lyle Sendlein will be at center.  Levi Brown, unfortunately, will be playing left tackle.  From there, it gets a little more hazy.  It’s difficult to think that Faneca will not be starting, despite what Whisenhunt said.  Faneca has staked his claim as a left guard, but Whisenhunt told Urban that Faneca can play right guard, tackle and even some center.  Left guard, however, is where Faneca will most likely play.  There’s no reason to move him around especially when the Cards have so much veteran depth on the line. 

That leaves right guard and right tackle with four players vying for two spots.  The players are Deuce Lutui, Reggie Wells, Brandon Keith, and Jeremy Bridges.  As of now, Lutui has not signed his tender, but once he does it’s probable that he will be slated as the right guard because he had a better 2009 effort than fellow guard Reggie Wells; there will definitely be a position battle, though.  Veteran Rex Hadnot and second-year player Herman Johnson are extreme long shots to crack the starting guard position, even if Lutui doesn’t sign.

Darren Urban has noted that Brandon Keith is being given the first shot to win the right tackle position over Bridges, which makes sense.  Keith is young and it’s a smart move to see if he pans out because if he does, the Cardinals have a young tackle to re-sign after this season.  Bridges, on the other hand, is a known commodity without much left in the tank.

Such projections are obviously mere speculation.  It’s likely that Whisenhunt doesn’t even know yet how things will develop on the line.  If he does, he’s not showing his hand.  “Part of this minicamp is seeing how this shakes out,” the Whis said.  “We understand chemistry is an important component of the offensive line.  We’ll go through the process of competition and it will sort itself out,” he added.

The Offensive Line Picture Right Now:

  • Left Tackle: Levi Brown
  • Left Guard: Alan Faneca
  • Center: Lyle Sendlein
  • Right Guard: Deuce Lutui/Reggie Wells
  • Right Tackle: Brandon Keith/Jeremy Bridges

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