Revenge of the Birds brings you another interview this week and this time the man under the microscope is former Arizona Cardinals' offensive tackle Elliot Vallejo. Vallejo dislocated his knee cap during the preseason and accepted an injury settlement shortly thereafter. Considering the uncertain future, not the mention the lackluster current, situation of the Cardinals offensive tackle position, this seemed like a great opportunity to check in with a guy who many considered the team's future at left tackle.
ROTB: First and foremost, what's the status of the knee/rehab? How close are you to 100% and/or "game ready?"
Elliot Vallejo: I feel ready to go. My left leg is not as explosive or strong as the other one yet, but I did very well in my work out with Browns. If I had to put a number on it, I would say I am about 82.5%.
ROTB: Secondly, I'm not sure that most of us understand the details of your injury settlement with the team. If I remember correctly you could be re-signed nine weeks into the season. Does that mean after the ninth game or literally nine weeks (aka eight games and a bye week)?
EV: Yes, nine weeks is correct and it does include the bye week. It is an NFL rule that the team who injured/waived you cannot resign you until six weeks after the settlement period. I had a settlement for three weeks into the season, so I cannot go back until week nine.
ROTB: Have you had any contact with Cardinals and what odds would you put on returning to the team this season? Odds for next season? Or care to break any contract news here on ROTB?
EV: The only contact I've had with the Cardinals is with the trainers and doctors. There have not been any talks of my return to the team this year, although there is a possibility of it happening. I'm not sure where I'll be next year, but I'm sure the Cards will offer to resign me the off season. I just have to put myself in the best situation possible wherever that may be.
ROTB: There seem to be quite a few teams with problems at left tackle, especially in the NFC West (the Niners and Hawks come to mind). Have you had private workouts with any other teams around the league and/or had any offers?
EV: I've only had one workout with the Browns last Thursday (11/5). It was a test workout for me to see where I was and if I was ready to play. I ended up doing very well and I thought the Browns were going to sign me. They have not made any o-line transactions, but they said I was at the top of their list.
ROTB: Lastly this is more of a schematic question, but over the past year and half or so we've spent quite a bit of time talking about the Cardinals pass protection. The biggest question always seems to be, why are the offensive tackles left on an island so often instead of given some help, either with a tight end or a RB. From your time with Whiz and Grimm, is this just their philosophy or is a case of just needing as many weapons in the pass pattern as possible? Do they just have that much confidence in Mike Gandy and Levi Brown?
EV: The team does have confidence in their tackles or they wouldn't out them on an island so often (or even get new ones). Change occurs when something is not working or at least not working well. The Cardinals love spread formations when passing because the amazing receiver core. There are plenty of plays and formations where the tackles can get help from a RB/TE/G, but if they're not necessary then they are not used consistently. Then, the most effective play can be called for the current situation. I can tell you that being left on island against a good pass rusher can be a daunting task at times, but you have to trust yourself.
Football on the pro level is VERY complex and few people truly understand what is actually going on in the game, unless you were part of creating the game plan for that particular opponent. I can tell you that is like a chess game though. There are a finite number moves your opponent can make and you always have to be a step ahead of your opponent.