One of the biggest and most underrated position battles along the Arizona Cardinals roster this year will be at offensive guard. Everything began when starter Deuce Lutui was offered a one-year tender and refused to sign during OTAs. He wound up missing all of the team's mini camps and workouts. Even before Alan Faneca was acquired, Reggie Wells slid over to the right side to take Lutui's place. Now Deuce is signed and there's a logjam at right guard.
If you've seen the movie Brothers, I would compare this situation to that movie. One brother goes to war, is captured and presumed dead. The other brother keeps his sister-in-law/brother's widow company and they begin to fall for each other. Then there's that awkward moment when the "dead" brother returns from the war after he is rescued. In this case, the "wife" is Lutui's position at right guard and his "brother" is Reggie Wells. Okay, now that I've gotten that terrible analogy out of my system, let's move on.
Reggie Wells vs Deuce Lutui
Size: Wells - Even though Lutui significantly outweighs Wells, I'm taking the upset here. With Lutui weighing in at a whopping 400-pounds for camp, he'll literally face an uphill battle to get back to his ideal weight (330). Wells is right where he needs to be.
Speed: Wash - Right now it's too difficult to judge two offensive lineman based on speed.
Athleticism: Lutui - Lutui has the age-factor on his side. We've seen him fight for every yard and even work his way to the next level when blocking. He's the more dynamic athlete.
Potential: Lutui - Deuce is only in his fifth season and started to crack some of his potential last year. He experienced his best year yet and most of us were excited to see how he'd look in 2010. After hearing about his weight issues, however, that may have changed.
Leadership/Experience: Wells - If you are one of the longest tenured players on the team, more often than not you'll win the experience battle. Wells has also played at tackle and center, making him a very diverse offensive lineman -- hence the reason he was able to switch sides this offseason.
While I believe Lutui's weight issues will pose problems during training camp - and I know I'm not the only one - I do believe that strength and conditioning coach John Lott will help. If Deuce can drop some pounds and seriously compete to earn his position back, it will make for one of the best position battles in 2010.