Entering the 2010 season, the Arizona Cardinals will feature a new look along the bookends of their offensive line. Three year stop-gap Mike Gandy remains a free agent and after injury sidelined him late last season, the front office was reluctant to bring him back. Fourth year lineman Levi Brown will transition to the left side while the right will be occupied by Brandon Keith for the time being. How the the depth chart shapes up will be interesting heading into camp and preseason.
Left Tackle: Levi Brown
- Levi is the obvious starter out of the offensive tackles on the roster. After three sub-par seasons at right tackle, the often criticized former first-round draft pick will make the move to the left side. Brown has faced most of his criticism after frequently surrendering multiple sacks the past two seasons. Although Cardinals fans can be harsh on Brown at times, let's not forget that he was a Pro Bowl alternate last season. The Cardinals have also passed more than most teams since 2007 and Brown's strong suit is pounding the football through the running game. He'll return to his natural position on the left side, where he and Alan Faneca will open lanes for the Cardinals' running backs.
Right Tackle: Brandon Keith
- Keith will enter his third season in the league under the tutelage of Ken Whisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm. They've groomed Keith to their picking and he's since then entered OTAs as the starting right tackle. I don't see Keith relinquishing his duties, but everyone knows that coach Whisenhunt allows every player to earn playing time. Keith is surprisingly nimble on his feet despite his massive size. He'll compete with Bridges in training camp, but is the favorite to protect Matt Leinart's blindside.
Primary Back Up: Jeremy Bridges
- With the two starters already set, the Cardinals will keep Bridges as their primary option as tackle-depth. Bridges has years of experience in the league and filled in exceptionally for the Cardinals last season when Mike Gandy was nursing an injured hip - most notably when he shut Jared Allen down on Sunday night football. The knock on Bridges is that his potential has climaxed at this point in his career. The most he can offer the Cardinals is superb back up play and insurance should a starter go down to injury. Bridges does, however, possess the size, speed, and ability to swing from right to left tackle should he need to jump in a play next season.
Out of the mix: Jonathan Palmer, Casey Knips, and Devin Tyler
- Although Palmer, Knips, and Tyler are currently part of the roster through training camp, they unfortunately won't stand the cuts once preseason arrives. Each tackle stimulates some interest and is an interesting prospect, but luckily for the Cardinals, they're already deep at the position. Bridges will serve as the back up and Reggie Wells and Herman Johnson can both play tackle should they be called upon.
How things stack up at tackle this season is the most complete yet most unknown it has been in years (if that's possible). The Cardinals will get the best starter possible between Keith and Bridges, and Levi's return to the left side is promising. The biggest unknown is how these changes will affect the line's chemistry. Whisenhunt has preached continuity along the offensive line since he's arrived in Arizona and has completely revamped the unit this offseason. What are your thoughts at offensive tackle? Are the Cardinals setting themselves up for failure or are these changes needed for the better?